By Paul Jacobson | Contributor
Slowdive's original run in the early 1990s followed the typical indie rock narrative: a promising debut album (1991's "Just for a Day"), a following genre-defining classic (1993's "Souvlaki") and a polarizing and career-ending third album (they were dropped by their label shortly after they released "Pygmalion" in 1995). Despite their brief first stint, maybe even because of it, Slowdive's popularity and legacy only grew over time. A reunion was inevitable.
When they finally did announce a reunion tour and a subsequent comeback album, it was difficult for me not to see it as a cash grab. I was excited but skeptical, especially considering the recent shoegaze revival-a dreamy, reverb-soaked genre of music that many see Slowdive as one of the defining acts of. Thankfully, "Slowdive" is not a cash grab; though it's far from perfect, it faithfully holds to their past material without sounding all too familiar and incorporates new elements that don't sound out of character.
The band pays homage to their past, with elements of "Just for a Day" showing up in "Slomo" and "No Longer Making Time" and "Go Get It" exhibiting traces of "Souvlaki." However, none of these songs sound as if they were pulled from the old recording sessions. The band revisits these sounds, but they don't re-tread on them.
The tempo of most of the songs is faster and more upbeat than anything Slowdive have done previously, contributing to the fresh feel of the album. But this shift in tempo is at the expense of the slow-burners; you won't find any songs like "Dagger," "Golden Hair" or "Here She Comes" on here. Closing track "Falling Ashes," a sparse, introspective eight-minute track backed primarily by a simple piano motif, is as close as the band comes to any of those songs. While not as exciting as the other tracks on the album, it's a personal favorite because of the beauty found in its simplicity.
Upon listening to this album for the first time, I was slightly disappointed. I was expecting an album that would be a spiritual successor to "Souvlaki" and was slightly bummed when it wasn't. I could hear traces of the Slowdive I had come to know and love, but it was mixed in with elements I didn't associate with the band. The mixing of "Slowdive" is much clearer than anything they've done in the past. While "Just for a Day" sounded muddled together, the instrument layers and quiet-loud dynamics of "Slowdive" are distinct. It was jarring at first, but with each subsequent listen, I'm able to appreciate the newer sounds more and more. An album like this is much more satisfying than a reunion-lazy re-hash of older material. "Slowdive" is anything but a cash grab for the band. Slowdive is back.
FAVORITE TRACKS: Star Roving, Everyone Knows, No Longer Making Time, Falling Ashes
LEAST FAVORITE TRACKS: Sugar For The Pill