Sunday, February 15, 2015

Album Review: Slowdive - Pygmalion

Erstwhile shoegazers Slowdive released their 3rd album in 1995.  This was a huge departure.  They'd clearly heard Talk Talk's masterpieces, Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock.  Opener Rutti is definitely inspired by the aforementioned albums.  Ten minutes of ponderous build up and Neil Halstead's curiously plucked guitars comes off as mysterious and unyielding, yet gorgeously ambient, and must have been jarring for fans of their previous work.  The likes of Crazy For You and Trellisaze are more like mood-setting metronomic grooves than actual songs, yet they work quite well in the context of the album.

Bewitched folk is also well-represented here.  Miranda and J's Heaven, featuring Rachel Goswell on wordless vocals would have been an influence on torch singers like Beth Gibbons.  The brief interludes Cello and the folky Visions of La maintain the late night mood, before the loping, pretty drift of Blue Skied an' Clear, which is one of the few tracks here that could be classed as conventional.  The album finishes with the elegiac string piece All Of Us.

Slowdive produced an album, while clearly in debt to late period Talk Talk, is able to stand on its own as a fine, late night ambient work.