Saturday, June 21, 2008

Slowdive "Just For A Day" (Creation, 1991)

Artist: Slowdive
Album: "Just For A Day"
Release Date: September 2, 1991
Label: Creation
Genre: Dream-Pop, Shoegaze, Indie-Rock
Mood: Intimate, Ethereal, Gentle, Bittersweet
Reminds Of: Ride, Mojave 3, My Bloody Valentine
What People Think: AllMusicGuide, Boomkat
Definitely Worth Buying: Boomkat, Amazon

1. Spanish Air
2. Celia's Dream
3. Catch The Breeze
4. Ballad Of Sister Sue
5. Erik's Song
6. Waves
7. Brighter
8. The Sadman
9. Primal

Named after a word in one of Nick Chaplin's dreams -- not from a Siouxsie and the Banshees single -- Slowdive formed in Reading, England, in late 1989. The group orginally consisted of Neil Halstead (guitar/vocals), Rachel Goswell (guitar/vocals), Christian Savill (guitar), Adrian Sell (drums), and Chaplin (bass). Formed when they were mostly in their teens, Slowdive was initially lumped in with the remainder of the early-'90s British shoegaze scene; Slowdive's later releases extended upon the likes of the Cocteau Twins and the more atmospheric sides of post-punk, and they closed out their career with an excellent and misunderstood ambient LP.
Signing with Creation, Slowdive's early singles received glowing press and chart placement. Their debut single, Slowdive, thinly veiled an indebtedness to the Byrds and My Bloody Valentine, with no traceable punk influence. (In fact, they were probably amongst the first batch of young rock bands to ignore the movement.) Just after Slowdive's recording, Sell left for university. Neil Carter subbed for less than a year, lending his skills to the follow-up single, Morningrise; former Charlottes member Simon Scott hopped on board prior to the band's third single, Holding Our Breath. The sleepy escapist psychedelia of both Morningrise and Holding Our Breath made significant impressions on the British indie chart. The press dubbed them part of "The Scene That Celebrates Itself" -- a small, loose, conglomerate of like-minded bands who could be seen at each other's shows, frequently hanging out together within the same circle. This "scene" included Lush, Moose, Swervedriver, Curve, and Blur. Not associating with themselves as a move of self-importance, grandstanding, or high society, it was merely a means for those involved to get into shows for free. Most of those involved were university dropouts on the dole. A dastardly move by the press, the tag just made it easier for them to lasso a group of bands into the to-be-expected derision. With the Brit-pop trend close behind, they could cast aside their champs of yesterday with one fell swoop.
For some, Slowdive will always encapsulate all that is wrong about the so-called shoegazing movement. The disaffected vocals, bowl-headed haircuts, the over-reliance on FX pedals and their vague lyrics were all at odds with the music media's then obsession with grunge and Britpop. Certainly, Slowdive weren't to everyone's taste but in a relatively short time they produced three largely excellent albums; each of which featured a signficant development in their sound and now well-respected as essential references in the dreampop movement. As if to prove that Slowdive were always more concerned with melody than they were given credit for, founder members Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell now ply their trade in the spare, more countrified work of Mojave 3.
Their debut album 'Just For A Day' has - on the whole - aged surprisingly well and is a more focused effort than one could reasonably expect from the band members who were still in their early twenties at the time. Granted, the vocals tend towards the effete but there were already signs of the tougher, more robust effects which would be perfect by their second album. Evidence of this is plain to see on the sinister finale 'Primal' and three minutes in to 'Catch The Breeze' as the floating melody is cruelly overtaken by a heavier, darker surge of guitar. In contrast, at this stage of their career, Slowdive were more comfortable with glacial soundscapes of which 'Celia's Dream', the mournful 'Ballad Of Sister Sue' and the gorgeous instrumental 'Erik's Song' stand out the most.


“For all that I have is written in waves…”


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Death Of The Left Unfinished

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