Essential New Music: Slowdive’s “Slowdive”

With bands such as Beach House, Fear Of Men and Purity Ring rediscovering the effects pedals of the dream-pop era, Slowdive’s reunion is timely. Neil Halstead, Rachel Goswell and Co. released three albums in the first half of the ’90s, the first two of which, Just For A Day and Souvlaki, are shoegaze classics. (Pygmalion is a pleasant ambient diversion before the band morphed into Mojave 3.) This self-titled album, after a 22-year gap, sounds neither nostalgic nor willful.

Halstead has taken some of the world-weariness that permeated his mostly acoustic solo albums and melded it with the swirling, swooning electric textures that Slowdive perfected, and his vocals and guitars mesh with Goswell’s like old friends slipping naturally into a comfort zone. The album has moments of propulsive triumph (“Star Roving”), shimmering transcendence (“Sugar For The Pill”) and calm beauty (“Falling Ashes”). While early Slowdive albums sounded like worthy descendants of the Cocteau Twins and My Bloody Valentine, this new one sounds happily like a distillation of the best of Slowdive. The effects—and the effects pedals—are still dreamy.

—Steve Klinge