Having expanded to a four-piece for their full-length debut effort, Alcian Blue, led by the husband-and-wife team of Jake and Kim Reid, take a turn through the gothier side of shoegaze, drawing on the massively echo- and reverb-laden work of both Slowdive and Lycia to find an elegant synthesis. Jake's singing at various points can only be called sepulchral, as his deep croon right from the start on "Horizons" extends an already set tone thanks to the descending riffs and buried, spindly feedback wails. Initially it seems that Alcian Blue's stumbling block would be a fairly monolithic approach in this vein -- Lycia, indeed, can carry off a full album exploring one particular mood and sound, but it's not for everyone to try. So when the band take a different turn on "You Just Disappear" with how well they work a Cure-into-This Ascension style (helped by Jake pulling back some on his delivery), it's a sure sign that Alcian Blue aren't going to be one-note songsters. Other turns veer into a strong variety within a general framework; this can be heard with the psych/fuzz drive of "This Day This Age" -- suggesting what Swervedriver would have been had they gone for black clothes and makeup -- and the striking, brawling closer "Terminal Escape," ending the album on a full-on, rock-out note. Meantime, when the group fully embrace the Slowdive in their soul, as on the majestic drowned-sound of "Night Sky" and the more propulsive "See You Shine," everything is bliss(out) once again. There's even a hint of the explosive blurriness of Lovesliescrushing on "Frozen Sleep," albeit at a generally lower volume than that band -- until it gets towards the end.
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett