Catch the Breeze

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Unless you're indifferent to packaging or new to Slowdive, a dull pain is bound to form in your head after one glance at Catch the Breeze, a baffling two-disc anthology that could be mistaken for a live bootleg put together in the '90s. It does have the looks of those mysterious live discs "imported from Italy" that materialized during the latter of the decade -- complete with a cover depicting a thumb-sized Slowdive dwarfed by a field of giant dandelions! Beyond the blurry photos, there are typos as well: though the liner notes from Uncut's Paul Lester add legitimacy, it's doubtful he intended to use a word like "atmospherica." The greater matter, however, is the point of the whole thing. Slowdive is one of those bands that should not be anthologized; their three albums should be remastered and expanded with non-album A-sides, B-sides, and obscurities, and any grouping of their songs pulled at random is bound to be as consistent and representative as the next. Moreover, how silly is it to release an introduction containing well over half of the songs that were released commercially? If anything, this will adequately satiate those who don't have the means to track down copies of the singles and albums, all of which were out of print -- yet not difficult to locate, Pygmalion excepted -- at the time of this set's release. Completists, on the other hand, have one piece of bait -- the Peel Session version of the Syd Barrett cover "Golden Hair," where Neil Halstead takes Rachel Goswell's place on vocals (peculiarly enough, both recorded versions appear here, with only three tracks between them in the sequence). Glaring reservations aside, Catch the Breeze traces the developments of a band that, during several years of activity, never stumbled. They made some of the best slow jams for disheveled sleep-loving collegiates during the '90s, all of which continue to float, drift, soothe, and arouse with as much supernatural glow as ever.

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