Slowdive - Everything Is Alive (Clear Vinyl)

Regular price $ 25.99

Slowdive's return in the mid-2010s was a landmark moment for shoegaze fans, as they were one of the only bands from the original wave to come back fully intact and ready to show all the initiators and followers what the sound was like at its very best. It was a shame that their first post-reunion album, 2017's Slowdive, though entirely pleasant, played it a little safe and stuck to their established sound. Fast forward a few years, and the band were ready to get back to challenging the boundaries of shoegaze. In fact, their de facto leader, Neil Halstead, wanted to go as far as making a record even more electronic and sparse than their 1995 album Pygmalion. He was voted down by the rest of the group, but much of the electronic approach he suggested made its way into the musical DNA of 2023's everything is alive. Many of the songs are underpinned by burbling sequencers and colored in by synths that fit in nicely with the typically smeared walls of guitars. A good example of how the two sounds mesh is the opening track, "Shanty," which begins with pulsing synth tones before launching into a midtempo ballad adorned by echoing guitars, wistful vocal harmonies, and enough fog to blanket a small seaside town at dusk. Many of the other songs have a similar feel, balancing the cold electronic tones with warm billows of guitar and placing the subdued, deeply felt vocals at the center of the quiet storm. It's a sound that will certainly be familiar to Slowdive fans; what's impressive is just how magically it all fits together here. It's just as easy to be enthralled by the music as it is to be carried away by the insistent emotional undertow of the melodies and nearly buried vocals. Equally exciting are the moments when the band seemingly toss aside the established rules of shoegaze and try something new. "Andalucia Plays" applies the shoegaze template to introspective folk, giving a majestic feel to a simple acoustic ballad of nostalgia as Halstead's quiet vocals and guitar are enveloped by swells of sound. When vocalist Rachel Goswell joins in, it's enough to melt the heart of even the most grizzled shoegaze aficionados. The flipside of that tender moment is "Kisses," a surprisingly uptempo tune with a glimmering chorus that, if it weren't for the refracted guitars and shimmers of echo, might be mistaken for an actual pop song. Paired with the almost spiky post-punk of the final track, "The Slab," one gets a sense that maybe Slowdive don't just want to be a great shoegaze band, they want to be a great band, period. This album gives ample proof that they have done it. Equally experimental and accessible, brimming over with aquatic atmosphere and pointed emotional feeling, and full of familiar joys and new surprises, everything is alive is the work of a group who are done reforming and have set their sights on brilliant evolution instead.

On Crystal Clear Vinyl

A1 Shanty
A2 Prayer Remembered
A3 Alife
A4 Andalucia Plays
B1 Kisses
B2 Skin In The Game
B3 Chained To A Cloud
B4 The Slab