Initially coming together back in 1989, the English band known as Slowdive are considered one of the pioneers of what is called Shoegaze. A difficult subgenre of Alternative Rock to describe, to many, their 1993 album Souvlaki is one of the best of its kind. Moving forward here with the underappreciated Pygmalion in 1995, shortly thereafter, Slowdive dissolved. Rather unfortunate, the positive part is that they reformed in 2014, released a self-titled record to positive acclaim in 2017, and continue to remain active to this day. However, the last 6 years since that 2017 comeback album have been relatively quiet. That was until recently when the band released the highly anticipated new album Everything Is Alive on September 1, 2023 through independent label Dead Oceans.
Reportedly working on new music since 2020, and with studio times delayed due to COVID-19, the long gap in-between new music has only made people that much more curious to hear what Slowdirve was brewing up. Complete with their classic lineup of Neil Halstead (vocals, guitar, keyboards) Rachel Goswell (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Nick Chaplin (bass), Christian Savill (guitar), and Simon Scott (drums), they craft 8 new songs that were well worth waiting for.
Looking back, 2017’s Slowdive was a strong Dream Pop-like record that was everything one could hope for from a band who had not released music in so long. That said, it feels like Everything Is Alive Halstead and company tried something different. Not as boisterous as their previous record, this new collection is more subtle in texture, but also extremely ambient. With this the songs are inviting, mellow, and highly entrancing.
Heavy with more modular synthesizer sounds, equally upfront are clean, melodic guitars that dazzle throughout. On top of that, the vocals of both Halstead and Goswell play magically off one another when together, but also when showcased solely in sections throughout the album. Pointing out a few go-to tracks, standouts include “Shanty,” the haunting “Alife” and “Chained to a Cloud,” plus the more Pop accessible “Kisses,” as well as heavier Rock “The Slab.”
When it is all said and done and the last note rings out, chances are you will be thoroughly satisfied. Everything Is Alive is masterfully crafted, well-paced, and decadently rich in atmosphere. Creating a mood that is thick as fog, Slowdive also creates something in such a thoughtful fashion which cannot be denied. An album you should willingly drift away in, Cryptic Rock gives Everything Is Alive 4.5 out of 5 stars.