Moving through loss and ghosts of the past: „everything is alive“ in the world of Slowdive

Slowdive (All pictures in the article: Ingrid Pop)

It has been almost ten years since the British group resurfaced to continue what they had started in the dreamy realms of shoegaze. After another break, their now released album „everything is alive“ stays true to the signature Slowdive sounds while also embracing change – the change of a musical journey as well as losing the ones you love.

Being an angsty teenager in the 2010s, looking for comfort in the corners of the internet, dream pop welcomed you with open arms. There was something so melancholic yet soothing in what musicians like Beach House started creating and it struck a chord with a whole generation – even though the sound wasn’t exactly new. Decades prior a band had dipped their feet into the waters of what the genre would become and shaped it massively in retrospect: Slowdive. Imagine being dropped by your label in the nineties because you go beyond the borders of what you created before just to be rediscovered as pioneers almost twenty years later… Most split up groups would probably leave it at that, leave what is over in the past and cherish the appreciation, but the members of this one decided to piece themselves back together.

„Time runs on once more
Another ghost is born
I feel like change will come
When the night rolls in“

Slowdive – Shanty

Now Slowdive has returned with a second album after their reunion in 2014 – showing that they didn’t just want to cling to the dream-pop-surge when it picked them up, return once just for old times‘ sake. It seems as there had been too much left unsaid as the band split and the circumstances offered the opportunity to unpack what had slumbered within them for all those years. The album title „everything is alive“ emphasizes that sentiment, that waking up from hibernation. In the opener song one hears the words „Time runs on once more / Another ghost is born“, drowned in athmospheric guitars as Slowdive loves to do. They stay friends with their ghosts of the past, with the music they used to make, yet that doesn’t stop them from letting their sound evolve.

While this is one interpretation of the album’s theme, the members mention that the loss of parents during the pandemic shaped the work immensely. Therefore the songs lay heavy on the chest at times, but they do so in the most gentle way. As Halstead sings of an angel chained to a cloud in „andalucia plays“, the very stripped-down instrumentals let him express the sadness clearly, no musical explosion is needed to convey the emotions. Yet Slowdive doesn’t forget that pain can also hit you like a wave. The overlapping sounds in „the slab“ seem to show the struggle of swimming in an ocean of feelings – and maybe it is better in the end to experience it all, however intense, however overwhelming it might be, as the only way out is through.

To state, with this in mind, that „everything is alive“ is a depressing record, would be plain wrong. Yes, the band is not hiding the weight of painful moments as they face them openly. And yes, they talk about ghosts and dreams of what they have lost. But what they manage to do with this album is pairing the hurt with a caressing softness that the genre they shaped is so known and loved for. How melancholic and hopeful Slowdive can sound at the same time probably comes through best in the first single and stand-out track „kisses“, which sweeps the listener off their feet the second it starts (read more here). Now, what they are trying to say might simply just be – we are here and alive. Dream pop is alive. And the ones we had to leave behind, they are also alive within us, within the songs we continue to make for them.

The new album „everything is alive“ by Slowdive was released on September 1st and here you can give it a well-deserved listen: