When they returned to the stage after two decades, the members of Slowdive had no intention of being a mere shoegaze nostalgia act. They almost instantly made plans to record new music, and after a few years of writing and recording, 2017's Slowdive is the result. Taking elements from the music each member has made in the time since the band's demise and wrapping them in modern production techniques while still coating everything in a familiar velvety haze, the album is a worthy addition to their catalog. Slowdive may play it a bit conservative at times, sounding more like a follow-up to the poppy Souvlaki than the experimental Pygmalion, but the bandmembers don't merely rest on their shoegaze bona fides. While the guitars are suitably drowned in FX and let loose to billow like clouds, there are looped samples running through the mix, some of the folky melodies Neil Halstead has been playing on his own come through, Rachel Goswell's vocals show much more power (there are a couple times she really belts it out), and there is the occasional bit of sonic trickery courtesy of the record's mix engineer Chris Coady. It all comes together very well, thanks to both the subtle hooks of the songwriting and the commitment shown by everyone to not just make an album of retreads. There is the occasional moment when the mix seems a little off, most notably the tinny drums on "No Longer Making Time," but mostly the album delivers exactly what a Slowdive fan would want. Lots of songs to dream to (the ethereal, Cocteau Twins-sounding "Don't Know Why," the calming "Sugar for the Pill"), get lost in (the noisy "Go Get It"), and swoon along with (the positively dreamy pop song "Everyone Knows"). The group tosses in some surprises, too, with a couple songs having a bit more energy than vintage Slowdive may have felt comfortable displaying. "Star Roving" sounds like a Ride song dipped in honey; the closing "Falling Ashes" is a piano-led ballad that lasts a long time without getting boring and feels like the album's one nod to the sparser, less guitar-driven direction they were heading in on Pygmalion. Slowdive will comfort fans of the band, both those who loved them at the time and those who have discovered them in the intervening years, by being very much a Slowdive album. One that feels modern enough, but also very classic at the same time.
by Tim Sendra