Sunday, 9 September 2012

Favourite Songs: Slowdive- When the Sun Hits

Slowdive are a band that have been off my radar for a long time and I didn't think I would ever really here about this group again.  Band leader Neal Halstead and Rachel Goswell seemed content on touring with Mojave 3 and who knows where some of the other members of the band ended up. That's why it was surprising to hear Halstead state in a recent interview with MTV Hive that he was open to a Slowdive reunion. He went on to say that he is still on good terms with the other band members and keeps in regular contact with them. The interviewer asked Neal what it would take to get Slowdive back together and his response was "shitloads of money, you know." I hope he was joking.

I am of the opinion that if a band has a reunion they should record new material and not just tour to cash a big pay cheque. So may bands have gotten back together lately including The Stone Roses, Pulp, Peter Hook & The Light (Joy Division), and The Pixies and they have not given us any new songs. The only exception is Blur.

Anyways, while reading the interview it reminded me how great of a shoegaze band Slowdive were and it prompted me to re-visit the band's best album Slouvaki. Slowdive formed in 1989 and they rode on the coattails of other great shoegaze bands like The Jesus & Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine. After the release of their first album, Just for a Day, the band were critically maligned because there seemed to be a backlash against shoegaze at the time with the rise of Britpop in England.

In 1992, Slowdive started to record their new album Souvlaki with the help of Brian Eno. Eno was brought in after the original batch of 40 or so songs that were written were scrapped and the band had to start all over again. Creation Records head Alan McGee wanted the group to make a pop record and Halstead agreed. Eno was brought in-not to produce-but to collaborate, but only ended up playing on two songs-Sing and Here She Comes. The album was a critical and commercial failure and in America the record label SBK abandoned the band by pulling all of their funding halfway through their U.S. tour.

Most of the tracks on Slouvaki seemed to be written as love songs and the lyrics showed a growing maturation in the songwriting of Halstead. Nowhere is this more clear than on the single When the Sun Hits. The lyrics aside, the swooping guitars really make the song into a shoegaze masterpiece. I think the single is one of the best Dreampop songs ever written. Listen to the song below.

I think most people today agree that critics who got swept up in the Britpop movement in the early 90's were a little too harsh on Slowdive. Today they are a respected band and have influenced countless of modern day groups including M83, The Pains of Being Pure at Heat and Asobi Seksu. If they get back together and they play Toronto I will be there in a heartbeat. Lets hope they also record some songs.

Souvlaki was re-issued on vinyl in 2011 which you can buy at Amazon or check your local record store. Also, you can buy the album on iTunes.

Slowdive- When The Sun Hits

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