The rumors were true.
Slowdive is back!
A lot of you are probably wondering if that is a discontinued Olympic sport or perhaps an antiquated dance move.
Um, no on both counts.
But I forgive you for not sharing my excitement. Slowdive was a band that was, arguably, ahead of its time.
I still remember the day when I first heard Slowdive’s 1994 release, “Souvlaki.”
In the pre-Internet age, it was not uncommon for me to track down British music magazines and read the hype about bands whose albums were very difficult to track down in rural America. However, after reading about Slowdive, I was able to find their album at Homer’s in Lincoln during a band trip to support Crofton’s state basketball appearance.
Back at the hotel room, I put the CD in my portable player and lost myself in the lush melancholy of Slowdive’s “shoegaze” sound. At that time, I was already listening to labelmates like Ride and the Boo Radleys — bands which I also loved. But Slowdive was somehow more foreign, ethereal and untouchable than those groups. It was harder to turn people on to their sound, because it seemed to appeal to a more unique sensibility.
Indeed, some critics in the UK completely savaged “Souvlaki.” According to Wikipedia:
Critical reactions, like their previous album, were generally negative. NME writer John Mulvey gave an ambivalent review. Despite noting their dated and “unfulfilling” sound, he did call it an “exemplary product”. Dave Simpson writing for Melody Maker, declared “[This] record is a soulless void […] I would rather drown choking in a bath full of porridge than ever listen to it again.”
Manic Street Preachers’ Richey Edwards delivered the death blow to Slowdive’s British reception when he proclaimed “we will always hate Slowdive more than we hate Adolf Hitler” in a notorious interview back in 1991.
Meanwhile, I had songs like “Alison,” “Machine Gun” and “40 Days” on repeat. I hadn’t done any drugs in my life but imagined that Slowdive was the musical equivalent and often used them to soundtrack writing sessions.
And how many lovelorn poems did I write to unaware crushes while listening to “Dagger?” Answer: Many.
It was announced Tuesday that Slowdive will play the Primavera Sound festival in Barcelona, Spain, in May. I won’t lie. Seeing Slowdive on the roster has struck up conversations of whether I will be quitting my job and stowing away on a ship in order to attend the event. I mean, have you seen this INCREDIBLE lineup? It would be worth risking life and limb to experience all that great music in three days.
Not only are Slowdive performing live this year, but the possibility exists that fans will get new recorded material. Vocalist and guitarist Neil Halsted spoke with The Quietus:
“I’m super excited. We had our first rehearsal last week, which was fun. We were surprisingly good. Quite a few of the songs came back quickly,” says Halstead: “The initial impetus was the idea of doing some new music. It seemed easier to do that because it’s not so public. But then we thought it would be good if we could raise a bit of money to make the record, and doing a couple of gigs would enable us to do that. And that’s the way it shaped up – while we’re rehearsing we can see if we’ve got another record in us.”
The reunion is welcome, as the band’s legacy has gone through a critical reappraisal in the last 12 years. Now, many bands cite Slowdive as an influence, and they are considered a highlight of the “shoegaze” sound.
During their brief career, Slowdive put out three albums and several EPs. All are worth checking out, in my humble opinion.
I’ve made a Spotify playlist of selected tracks off the three albums to provide a crash course for anyone interested in the band but unfamiliar with them:
This FACT Magazine feature is a beginner’s guide to Slowdive.