by something vague USER (16 Reviews)
May 6th, 2006 | 12 replies

Release Date: 1993 | Tracklist

For every genre of music, there is at least one massive band that casts it's shadow over the barren fields. To put it in an easily digested way: My Bloody Valentine is to shoegaze as Pink Floyd and King Crimson are to progressive rock; not only are they mentioned in just about every review, but the artist or group being analyzed are often unfairly compared or put up to that certain band's "standards". Slowdive are definately one of these bands, along with such other alumni as Ride, Lush, and Chapterhouse.

Unfortunately for Slowdive, their first album, Just for a Day, was released the same year as My Bloody Valentine's landmark, instantly classic Loveless. However, 1993 saw the band releasing what many consider their best album, Souvlaki, an album that is equal parts shoegaze, ambient, and pop that easily differentiates itself from the pack of shy dogs. There is even some humor in the title (it is a referenced to a Jerky Boys sketch) which plays counterpoint to the stern, solemn artwork and music. Souvlaki is also greatly influenced by Brian Eno, who took part in playing on two tracks, and cowriting one ("Sing").

But Eno's influence goes far beyond just a few measly tracks; the majority of this collection boasts rich and inviting ambient textures, soaring melodies, and strong songwriting sensibilities. This is most certainly evident as "Alison" kicks things off with a tale of getting high with a girl ("I wear your clothes, when we're both high / Alison, I said we're sinking / But you laugh and tells me it's just fine") accompanied by walls of distorted guitar - which is in turn in counterpoint with the clean melodies throughout. "Machine Gun" follows the latter with a realatively downtrotten mood. Covered in heavily treated guitars, it moves with ease between Rachel Goswell's high-register, chiming vocals and Neal Halstead's down-to-earth voice.

Elsewhere, there are more shimmering dream-pop songs, such as the relatively tame and resevered "Here She Comes", a song that could easily be a easy listening hit, "When the Sun Hits", the closest Slowdive come to sounding anything like Ride, with chorused guitars, waves of synthesizer magik, and Halstead's Andy Bell-like voice. "Dagger", however, proves to be the most understated, and best, song on Souvlaki. Featuring lightly strummer acoustic gutair, droning piano, and grandiouse vocal melodies, it barely goes beyond that one point of volume, but for once this needn't be taken into affect.

You may be wondering about the rest of Souvlaki, however. And I must say it: majority rules, and the majority of the album lapses into common pitfalls shoegaze. "Sing", despite being cowritten by Brian Eno, is tedious and predictable, while "Souvlaki Space Station" borders on self-indulgent at a song-ruining 6 minutes. There are plenty of interesting sounds and melodies, but none of it goes beyond interesting, such as the case with the Frank Sinatra cover, "Some Velvet Morning", the one song on Souvlaki that, while being interesting, becomes increasingly dull with repeated listening. Of the latter half of the album, "Missing You" proves original and striking: a song that lets the Eno influence go wild, with drum loops and plenty of atmosphere and density to boot. If "Country Rain" were to be included in the original pressing of the album (all songs after "Dagger" were from the 5 EP besides "Some Velvet Morning"), Souvlaki would be a much more solid album, with slide guitar flourishes and distant drums as Rachel Goswell's singing "floats" overtop.

Souvlaki is often considered as one of the top three shoegaze albums of all time, alongside My Bloody Valentine's Loveless and Ride's Nowhere. Although on it's own being a solid, well-rounded album, it falls short of those previously mentioned bands' accomplishments, if only barely. But do not fear, Slowdive are no mere copycat; despite being a straddling point between MBV's dense, homogenous sound, Ride's crisp, straightforward dreamrock, and the Cocteau Twins' lush melodicism, they still form a unique blend of their own, incorporating elements of these groups and forging them into a fairly unique sound. Credit exists where credit is deserved.

Recent reviews by this author
The Flaming Lips The Soft BulletinSonic Youth NYC Ghosts & Flowers
Ciccone Youth The Whitey AlbumSonic Youth SYR1: Anagrama
Sonic Youth SisterSonic Youth Sonic Nurse
user ratings (1902)
other reviews of this album
IronGiant (5)
"It's alright, we're altogether"...

Christopher Y. (5)
Shoegaze at its most delicately beautiful, most harrowing and most delicious....

Electric City (4.5)
If you've listened to Loveless a lot and want more shoegaze, this is a pretty good album to get....

Scott Herren (5)

Comments:Add a Comment 
May 7th 2006


Any of the three, really.

Storm In A Teacup
May 7th 2006


Noice. They seem interesting. I may check them out sometime.

May 7th 2006


You liked it too, Kripes.

May 7th 2006


Album Rating: 5.0

I definitely love this album. For the record, I can't stand Loveless.

May 7th 2006


Album Rating: 3.0

Nothing like some good ol fashion heterosexual shoegaze

Two-Headed Boy
May 22nd 2006


Album Rating: 4.5

For the record, I can't stand Loveless.

Don't fall asleep tonight, sonny.

January 10th 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

ummm. does this band sound like Broken Social Scene? because if they do, I'm definitely going to go purchase this.This Message Edited On 01.10.07

La Revolucion
February 24th 2007


Dagger = Best Song Ever.

The Jungler
February 24th 2007


Album Rating: 4.5

I concur

Electric City
June 18th 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

I'll fight anyone who says Alison isn't a truly magnificent song. Just got this, have started the listening process.

July 1st 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

At its best Souvlaki can be one of the most hypnotizing albums ever but when it's bad it's really bad.

Electric City
July 17th 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

When's it really bad?

You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile


Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Site Copyright 2005-2023 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy