Review Summary: Pygmalion, a personal experience.
It took me awhile to appreciate the beauty of Pygmalion. My first exposure came directly after listening to and then falling in love with Souvlaki. The record was beautiful and left me with an almost happy sensation after each listen. Then I listened to Pygmalion. Everything I enjoyed and respected about Souvlaki had died and been replaced with an almost frightening side of Slowdive I could have never imagined. My first impression of Pygmalion left me feeling empty. The music seemed to not want to go anywhere and have no urgency at all to progress in any form.
Months later late at night and with a different state of mind I gave the album another listen. This time I was blown away. Between the cold and darkness and the emptiness of Pygmalion, the album felt a lot more personal. Emotionally the album had grabbed me and kept me listening from the first song till the last.
Musically the album rests on fragile ground and is a complete departure from previous material. You won't find anything that resembles Souvlaki or Just For A Day here, and tracks from Pygmalion should not be mixed with tracks from other albums. Pygmalion is experimental and completely untamed, with musical landscapes full of swirling echoey voices and melodies which populate every track. The urgency of progression I felt the music needed before isn't necessary if the song or album as a whole is on repeat, because once the album captures you, 48 minutes won't be long enough.
Between the beautiful production and the countless layers, the vocals fit perfectly. Delivered in an angelic manner with an almost depressing undertone to them, the vocals bring every song to life. In all honesty I have no idea what any of the songs are about, though hearing lyrics like 'Isn't life so small' repeated over and over again leaves me to translate them in my own personal way.
Learning to understand this album is important because you probably won't get it on your first listen. Pygmalion has a certain freedom open to explore. I was lucky enough to hear it in the perfect condition to soak in everything it had to offer, though I'm afraid most people will hear it under the circumstances I first heard it under and not appreciate it as much as they could. If you ever have a time and you feel alone give this a listen, you might enjoy it.