Slowdive: everything is alive (Dead Oceans) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Monday, March 4th, 2024  

Slowdive

everything is alive

Dead Oceans

Aug 31, 2023 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Hours after my mother passed away, I can recall stepping out into the garden—bewildered, untethered, adrift. Then, inexplicably, every detail in the garden seemed to snap into a weird kind of piercing clarity. It was as though nature existed on a separate frequency, a wavelength that grief had momentarily allowed me to attune to. Every element pulsed with vitality; everything felt intensely alive, and for an instant, the engulfing sorrow gave way to a profound feeling of gratitude.

Listening to Slowdive’s new album, everything is alive brought back the profundity of those feelings. Dedicated to vocalist and guitarist Rachel Goswell’s mother and drummer Simon Scott’s father, who both died in 2020, the album is described as “an exploration into the shimmering nature of life and the universal touchpoints within it.”

It’s the band’s first studio album in six years, and everything is alive is a work of glistening, infinite beauty. It traverses a number of sonic soundscapes, and while it remains unmistakably tethered to Slowdive’s signature sound, it sees the band embracing a creative trajectory that’s more about innovation, lived experience, and evolution, rather than merely treading water in the lucrative, albeit often artistically reductive, ocean of nostalgia.

Instead, they take the listener on an aural cinematic voyage that on occasion, resonates with sadness, beauty, and wonder, with the overarching emotions being ones of gratitude and hope. It’s a majestic and moving affair, one that benefits from repeated listens.

The album began life with guitarist and vocalist Neil Halstead experimenting with modular synths, originally envisioning everything is alive as a “more minimal electronic record.” But when the band came together, the music became more expansive and cinematic, as they crafted textured ambient atmospherics with Slowdive’s trademark reverb-drenched sound.

To experience the full immersive journey, it’s certainly beneficial to listen to the album as a whole, but equally, the tracks work well as standalone pieces. This is evidenced by the recent singles; prime examples being the lilting escapist beauty of “kisses” and the dense, ominous cinematic atmospherics of “the slab.” The album opens with the evocative “shanty,” and its spiralling, coruscating guitar washes and synth flourishes capture the spirit of the album title perfectly. It shimmers with life and possibility. “Prayer remembered” is an elegant, poignant, and emotive instrumental, while “alife” and “chained to a cloud,” featuring shared vocals from Halstead and Goswell, both radiate a majestic and fragile beauty.

Everything is alive may only contain eight tracks, but Slowdive manage to craft an album of profound beauty full of emotional heft, which encompasses sadness, joy, gratitude, and ultimately optimism. (www.slowdiveofficial.com)

Author rating: 8.5/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10



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