Of all the shoegazers, Slowdive were the most unpredictable. Their first three albums, as well as their handful of EPs, revealed that this band, more than any of the scene's other main acts, were about forging a path to the unknown.
The last we heard from them was 1995's Pygmalion, a full-on ambient record that was the complete opposite of the pop record their label Creation asked for. (Creation dropped them a week after its release.) Following that, songwriters Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell started Mojave 3 and became pensive folkies. After reuniting in 2014 for some tours, Slowdive return after a 22-year absence with a new album of limitless possibilities. Still, no one really knew what a Slowdive album in 2017 could sound like — including the band members.
Simply titled Slowdive, this eight-track LP finds the five-piece both remembering their past and exploring what lies ahead. There are some familiar feelings, like how both "No Longer Making Time" and "Go Get It" recall Souvlaki with their respective cascading choruses and dub-like rhythms, while "Slomo" nods to the more ethereal tones of Just For A Day. But for the most part, Slowdive feels like the band have kept their finger on the refresh button.
By comparison to tepid pacing of their previous work, "Don't Know Why" almost reaches a thrash-like urgency; "Star Roving" is built from a ton of layers, and probably the closest thing they have to a rock song; closer "Falling Ashes" may follow the minimalism of Pygmalion, but with the help of a lead piano, it introduces a whole new avenue for the band to explore in the future.
It certainly was a long wait, but finally Slowdive have given us the album that we have been dreaming about for the last 22 years. (Dead Oceans)