New Audio: Slowdive Shares Bruising “the slab”

Slowdive — co-founders  Neil Halstead (vocals, guitar) and Rachel Goswell along with Nick Chaplin (bass), Christian Savill (guitar) and Simon Scott (drums) — will be releasing their highly-anticipated fifth album everything is alive on September 1, 2023 through Dead Oceans. everything is alive is the shoegaze pioneers’ first album in over six years, and the material reportedly sees the British outfit finding ever more contours of its immersive, elemental sound. Individually, each of the album’s songs contain the duality of a familiar internal language mixed with the exaltation of new beginnings.

The record began with the band’s Halstead in the role of writer and producer, working on demos at home. Experimenting with modular synths, Halstead originally conceived everything is alive as a “more minimal electronic record.” The band’s collective decision-making ultimately saw them drawing back to their signature reverb-drenched guitar sound — but the synths seeped their way into the compositions. “As a band, when we’re all happy with it, that tends to be the stronger material. We’ve always come from slightly different directions, and the best bits are where we all meet in the middle.” Halstead says. “Slowdive is very much the sum of its parts,” Goswell adds. “Something unquantifiable happens when the five of us come together in a room.”

The album was recorded over a couple of years, starting in the fall of 2020 at Courtyard Studio, where they’ve historically recorded. Sessions moved to Oxfordshire, and then the Wolds of Lincolnshire and then to Halstead’s Cornish studio. Early last year, the band enlisted Shawn Everett to mix six of the album’s eight tracks. 

Because of their deep and lengthy history, there’s a palpable familial energy to the band — and fittingly to to the album: The album is dedicated to Goswell’s mother and Scott’s father, who both died in 2020. “There were some profound shifts for some of us personally,” Goswell says. Life’s profound shifts and uneasy crossroads are often reflected in the many-layered emotional tenor of their music. And while everything is alive is informed by some of life’s heaviest experiences, the material sees the band poised, wizened and pitching themselves to hope. Sure, there’s sadness, but there’s gratitude and uplift, coming from the acknowledgement that life is complicated yet profoundly beautiful in itself. 

Thematically, the album is in many ways an exploration into the shimmering nature of live and the universal touch points within it. Sonically, the album reportedly sees the acclaimed British outfit boldly pushing their sound towards the future with the material touching upon the psychedelic soundscapes they’ve long been known for but with 80s electronic elements, and John Cale-inspired journeys.

So far, I’ve written about two of the album’s singles:

  • kisses,” a breathtakingly gorgeous song, which struck me as being a sort of gentle refinement of the classics enveloping Slowdive sound that fans have long adored: reverb-drenched guitar textures,. Goswell’s and Halstead’s uncannily precise, yearning harmonies, soaring hooks and choruses and a gently driving groove — with featuring an emphasis on atmospheric synths. The result is a song that — for me, at least — evokes a waking dream full of intertwined yearning, nostalgia and hope.
  • skin in the game,” a slow-burning, forlorn and smudged song built around Halstead’s aching vocal radiating outward from hazy and distorted guitars paired with a narcotic and syrupy rhythm. Much like its immediate predecessor, the song evokes a woozily heartbreaking nostalgia, mixed with regret., unease and uncertainty.

The album’s third and latest single, album closer “the slab” is built around skittering and thunderous percussion, layers of reverb-drenched guitar fuzz, menacing synths. Halstead’s plaintive delivery is buried in the mix, seemingly desperate to burst out from its confines. It’s one of the heaviest songs on the album that I’ve heard so far — and arguably one of the heaviest songs they’ve written or recorded ins some time.

“This is the heaviest track on the record and as the name suggests we wanted it to feel like a big slab of music,” Slowdive’s Neil Halstead explains. “We wanted it to feel very dense.”

Along with the new single, Dead Oceans announced a series of listening sessions in London, New York and Los Angeles, where attendees will get an exclusive first listen of everything is alive: The London session will be with L-Acoustics Creations. The NYC and Los Angeles sessions will be in Dolby Atmos®. All three sessions will offer an immersive sonic experience of the album. Fans can enter a sweepstakes for a chance to attend. Click on the links below.

everything is alive Dolby Atmos Immersive Listening Sessions:
Wed. 8/23 – London, UK @ L-Acoustics Creations London
Thu. 8/24 – New York, NY @ Dolby Screening Room NYC
Thu. 8/31 – Los Angeles, CA @ Dolby Screening Room Hollywood Vine

The members of Slowdive are currently in the middle of an extensive international tour that includes a two-night stay at Webster Hall — September 27, 2023 and September 28, 2023. Check out the current and remaining tour dates below.

Tour Dates:

Fri. Aug. 11 – Sicily, IT @ Ypsigrock Festival
Fri. Aug. 18 – Brecon Beacon, GB @ Green Man Festival
Sat. Sep. 23 – Toronto, ON @ Queen Elizabeth Theatre
Mon. Sep. 25 – Boston, MA @ Citizens House of Blues Boston
Wed. Sep. 27 – New York, NY @ Webster Hall
Thu. Sep. 28 – New York, NY @ Webster Hall
Fri. Sep. 29 – Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer
Sat. Sep. 30 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
Mon. Oct. 2 – Cleveland, OH @ The Roxy @ Mahall’s
Tue. Oct. 3 – Chicago, IL @ Riviera Theatre
Wed. Oct. 4 – St. Paul, MN @ Palace Theatre
Fri. Oct. 6 – Denver, CO @ Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom
Sat. Oct. 7 – Salt Lake City, UT @ The Union
Mon. Oct. 9 – Portland, OR @ Crystal Ballroom
Tue. Oct. 10 – Seattle, WA @ Showbox SoDo
Thu. Oct. 12 – San Francisco, CA @ The Warfield
Sat. Oct. 14 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Bellwether
Mon. Oct. 30 – Glasgow, UK @ QMU
Tue. Oct. 31 – Manchester, UK @ Ritz
Wed. Nov. 1 – Bristol, UK @ SWX
Fri. Nov. 3 – London, UK @ Troxy
Sun. Nov. 5 – Belfast, UK @ Mandela Hall
Mon. Nov. 6 – Dublin, IE @ National Stadium