Everything is Alive
There’s great comfort to be obtained in familiar cycles, both in tangible and conceptual forms. Music, especially, is one of the most instantaneous sources to find solace. Everything Is Alive, the fifth studio album from English rock quintet Slowdive, is a testament to this. The album – which follows after the universal acclaim of their 2017 self-titled release – started to take shape in 2020, a year in which guitarist and vocalist Rachel Goswell’s mother and drummer Simon Scott’s father died.
With the consideration of grief providing a grounding force to some of the songwriting, you can sense that the gracious instrumental “Prayer Remembered” comes from a place of healing. Meditative in its minimal nature, its repeated reverb-laced guitar melody is immensely soothing, like the aural equivalent of looking out to a vast and gently rippling body of water. Similarly, the tempered and celestial “Andalucia Plays”, which feels like a distant relative to some of Yo La Tengo’s more contemplative moments, effortlessly conveys immense heart and humanity throughout its near seven-minute duration.
Typically existing within electrifying guitar-driven shoegaze friendly arrangements, Slowdive expand their sonic field to include far more electronic embellishments with several engaging motifs courtesy of having fun with modular synths during the writing and recording process. This is made apparent from the offset with the alluring central chiming synth motifs that dominate on the impactful opening track, “Shanty”. Elsewhere, the buoyant and bright “Alife” heralds the infectious electronically tinged pop hooks of Empire of The Sun, not exactly a reference one would anticipate from Slowdive but it works effectively here to bring the band into a more exuberant space.
The energy of “Star Roving”, from Everything Is Alive’s predecessor, which signified a more contemporary and pop-infused melodic approach is ever-present on Slowdive’s latest material, most notably on the kaleidoscopic and uptempo single “Kisses”. Thus making their latest body of work feel like a natural sonic progression, one that fans will no doubt relish returning to.
And while there are plenty of bright motifs across the LP, the band do well to strike a tonal balance across these eight considered and sensitively developed compositions. “Skin In The Game” is one instance, in particular, whose darker tones and textures provide some of the most interesting production moments on the record, notably the slightly sinister mask applied to the vocals which lends a brilliant warped quality to the delivery of the song’s title and refrain.
Throughout their thirty plus year career, Slowdive have always managed to present deeply enriching and texturally satisfying arrangements that effortlessly envelop listeners. Everything Is Alive is no exception. Its magic resides in its ability to capture so many moods through luminous and languid instrumentation, and the simplicity in which they present the songs; allowing space for every component to breathe and leave a lasting impression on the listener.
Pre-order Everything is Alive by Slowdive HERE
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