If you only listen to one song today, make it “Star Roving” by Slowdive (2017, from a forthcoming release title to come).
Yesterday, shoegaze/dream pop pioneers Slowdive released a new song, their first in 22 years. They turned a bunch of heads and won favour with the fickle British music press with their 1991 debut Just For a Day
. I always liked that record very much, but it’s not my favourite of theirs.
In 1993, Slowdive released their seminal Souvlaki, which was initially given mixed reviews by the press. By that time, shoegaze and dream pop had fallen out of fashion because Britpop was the big thing. It didn’t sell as well or chart as well as Just For a Day, but it was one of my top five records of the decade, and in my top 10 of all time. With the passage of time, the same writers who didn’t like it have come round, and now it’s universally revered.
In 1995, the band released a very strange, very experimental album Pygmalion. It’s really spacey and they used a lot of electronics. There’s a lot of quiet bits and a lot of negative space. It was given nice reviews, but it didn’t sell worth a damn, and I never cared for that record. Shortly after the release of the album, the band was dropped by Creation Records, and shortly after that, the band ceased operations.
After the breakup of Slowdive, principal songwriters Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell formed the country-tinged Mojave 3 along with Slowdive drummer Ian McCutcheon. They released five albums, but were never as well-known as Slowdive. In 2006, Goswell announced that she would no longer tour with the band because of a sudden, dramatic loss of hearing in her left ear and lingering issues with tinnitus.
Halstead and Goswell each released solo records and they each collaborated with lots of different people, but for years there was never so much as a whisper of a reunion.
In January of 2014, the band announced that they would reunite, and they played a few festival shows to delighted audiences. They said there would eventually be new material, but we didn’t know when we would get it.
Meanwhile, Halstead was working with a few projects, including Black Hearted Brother. Last year, Goswell joined forces with Stuart Braithwaite out of Mogwai to form Minor Victories. Their self-titled debut record absolutely blew me away. It was my favourite record of the year. (Yes, there will eventually be a year-end list). Hearing loss or not, Goswell toured with Minor Victories, and she played those Slowdive shows. All signs were still pointing to new Slowdive material.
Yesterday, we finally, officially got a new song. This is that song.
“Star Roving” by Slowdive
At this point, we don’t know any details about a forthcoming album, but they’ve certainly suggested that one is on the way.
I like this a lot, and I’m thrilled that they’ve gotten back to the tasty, noisy stuff. In a way, it’s like a perfect medium between the beautiful melodies of Just For a Day and the beautiful noise of Souvlaki. I can’t wait to hear more.