Music / Slowdive

Slowdive are a British Dream Pop/Shoegazing band active during The '80s and The '90s, named after the Siouxsie and the Banshees song "Slowdive". Next to My Bloody Valentine, they're considered one of the best examples of their genres. The band consists of Rachel Goswell (vocals, guitar, keyboards, tambourine), Neil Halstead (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Nick Chaplin (bass), Christian Savill (guitar) and Simon Scott (drums).

The band was formed in 1989 by childhood friends Halstead and Goswell, with Chaplin and Savill joining shortly thereafter. Their first release, a self-titled EP got them critical praise in the British press. Sustaining their momentum with two more EPs, they then released their first album, Just for a Day in 1991. They quickly got compared to My Bloody Valentine, and while they were an influence, Slowdive never fit in completely with the shoegaze aesthetic, owing more to the Cocteau Twins.

Their second album, Souvlaki, features some of their best songs, such as "Alison", "Machine Gun", "40 Days", "Sing", "Souvlaki Space Station", "When the Sun Hits", and "Dagger". With time, Souvlaki has also found itself a place in the canon of landmark Shoegazing albums next to My Bloody Valentine's Loveless, Ride's Nowhere, and Lush's Split. An additional EP that year saw them experiment with influences from ambient techno and country. However, the Shoegazing fad in the UK was dying down around this time and even earning Hype Backlash; also, US distributor SBK Records' attempts to promote their albums in the midst of grunge were incredibly incompetent and stupid. Additionally, SBK pulled funding, forcing the band to finance two 1994 US tours themselves.

A week after Pygmalion was released, they were dumped by Creation Records — Halstead had been threatened that the relationship with the label would end unless they delivered a "pop album", and predictably, he completely ignored them. Slowdive broke up around this time: Chaplin and Savill left, while Goswell, Halstead and McCutcheon regrouped as Mojave 3 and signed to 4AD Records. With Mojave 3 they instead focused on combining Dream Pop, electronic experimentation and some mild country influences.

Slowdive has actually done more for their genre than they're given credit for, which isn't surprising, considering Shoegazing bands other than My Bloody Valentine suffer from severe Overshadowed by Awesome, and their mellower sound stood out like a sore thumb amid the ear-brutalizing loudness of the shoegaze scene. Alongside the Czech band Ecstasy of Saint Theresa, who moved into Ambient and Techno soundscapes, they helped innovate shoegaze's electronic aspects — whereas My Bloody Valentine provided the blueprint for the monstrous instrumental shoegaze based around a combination of brutally loud guitars and soothing melodies, Slowdive's copious use of reverb, songs played very slowly and overall spaciness made bands like M83 and A Sunny Day in Glasgow possible.

They reunited in 2014 to much fanfare. On 12 January 2017, they released "Star Roving", their first single since 1994. On 28 March, they released yet another single, "Sugar for the Pill". Finally, they released their self titled album on 5 May to even more fanfare.

Classic line-up:

  • Neil Halstead - Vocals, guitar, keyboards
  • Rachel Goswell - Vocals, guitar, keyboards, tambourine
  • Nick Chaplin - Bass
  • Christian Savill - Guitar
  • Simon Scott - Drums


  • Adrian Sell - Drums (1989)
  • Neil Carter - Drums (198990)
  • Ian McCutcheon - Drums (199495)

Studio discography:

  • Slowdive EP (1990)
  • Morningrise EP (1991)
  • Holding Our Breath EP (1991)
  • Just for a Day (1991)
  • Souvlaki (1993)
  • 5 EP (1993)
  • Pygmalion (1995)
  • Slowdive (2017)

Tropes close and feelings flow:

  • Album Title Drop: Just for a Day is a lyric in "Celia's Dream".
  • Break-Up Song: Souvlaki has a few, since the relationship between Neil and Rachel dissolved before it came out. "40 Days" and "Dagger" were written from Neil's perspective, while the lyrics to "Souvlaki Space Station" came from Rachel.
  • Butt-Monkey: Hoo boy, with the treatment of their label and reviews mocking them simply because of the backlash shoegaze received, they got this status...until being vindicated by history kicked in and reviewers who mocked them began to praise them and are now a staple within shoegazing that isn't My Bloody Valentine. Souvlaki is now sometimes considered to be just as good, if not better than Loveless.
  • The Cameo: Brian Eno adds keyboards and treatments to "Sing" and "Here She Comes".
  • Cover Version: "Some Velvet Morning" by Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra was added as a bonus track to the USA version of Souvlaki (one of the few good things SBK Records did) and came out on a separate EP in the UK. "Golden Hair" by Syd Barrett was part of a Peel Session and later bundled with the remastered two-disc edition of Just for a Day.
  • Dream Pop: Dream Pop and Shoegazing go hand-in-hand, but they're unanimously considered one of the dreamiest bands in the latter genre.
  • Echoing Acoustics: They used this quite a bit, bringing their sound closer to the middle between Dream Pop and Shoegazing.
  • Epic Instrumental Opener: The first vocals on "Avalyn I" show up some 100 seconds in.
  • Epic Rocking: "Spanish Air", "Rutti", "Crazy for You", "Trellisaze", "J's Heaven", "Blue Skied an' Clear", "Slomo", "Go Get It", "Falling Ashes", "30th June", "Avalyn" and "Golden Hair" live.
  • Face on the Cover: The cover of Souvlaki is just a picture of the band.
  • I Am the Band: Pygmalion is more of a Neil Halstead solo album, by his own admission.
  • Indecipherable Lyrics:
  • Lampshade Hanging: The title of Holding Our Breath is a reference to the critical pasting they expected (and received) after Loveless prompted some critics to start a Hype Backlash. Their work has since been Vindicated by History.
  • Looped Lyrics: Of the single-sentence variety, we have "Crazy for You", where Neil repeats "crazy for loving you" for five minutes (the last two syllables are practically inaudible.) When played live, he and Rachel sing it as "crazy for love, for love, for love."
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: The cover for Slowdive is just a very sparse black-and-white photo.
  • Mondegreen: The Looped Lyrics (and vocals) of "Crazy for You" make the song a prime target of mishearing its one-sentence lyric, which leads to hilarious interpretations like "crazy falafel."
    • The incorrect (and quite morbid) lyrics to "When the Sun Hits" on lyrics websites are discussed by the band themselves prior to playing the song.
    Popular lyrical misconception on When the Sun Hits: "with her coffins under heaven" 👎
    "with her cools [sic] things and her heaven"👍 sing along ..
    - Slowdive clarifying the chorus of "When the Sun Hits" over Twitter note 
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Just like Ride, Lush, Catherine Wheel and many other contemporaries.
  • Shoegazing: One of the best known bands in this genre, alongside My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Lush and Catherine Wheel.
  • Shout-Out: Souvlaki was named after a Jerky Boys sketch where a main character claims that his wife will "suck your cock like souvlaki".
  • Something Completely Different: The closer from Slowdive, "Falling Ashes", sounds more like a song on Pygmalion.
  • Spiritual Successor: Mojave 3.
  • Titled After the Song: Rachel Goswell suggested naming the band after a Siouxsie and the Banshees song.
  • The Southpaw: Christian Savill, at least when playing guitar.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: Par for the course for shoegazing.