The fifth album from shoegaze giants Slowdive contains the duality of a familiar internal language mixed with the exaltation of new beginnings. everything is alive is transportive, searching and aglow, the work of a classic band continuing to pitch its unmistakable voice to the future. Six years after the group’s monumental self-titled album, everything is alive finds Slowdive—vocalists and guitarists Rachel Goswell and Neil Halstead, guitarist Christian Savill, bassist Nick Chaplin, and drummer Simon Scott—locating evermore contours of its immersive, elemental sound.
The new record began with Halstead in the role of writer and producer, working on demos at home. Experimenting with modular synths, Halstead originally conceived of everything is alive as a “more minimal electronic record.” Slowdive’s collective decision-making ultimately drew the group back towards their signature reverb-drenched guitars, but that first concept seeped into the compositions. “As a band, when we’re all happy with it, that tends to be the stronger material,” Halstead says. “We’ve always come from slightly different directions, and the best bits are where we all meet in the middle.” The convergence of five unique characters has made the sound. “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 group’s projected studio sessions for everything is alive, in April 2020, were naturally scrapped, and when the group finally did meet up, six months later, at Courtyard Studio, where they’ve historically recorded, the mood was jubilant. (Finally, they had a proper reason to leave the house.) That was the beginning of a multi-year recording process, which moved from Oxfordshire and into the Wolds of Lincolnshire and back to Neil’s own Cornish studio before extending into February 2022, when the band brought in mixer Shawn Everett (The War On Drugs, SZA, Alvvays) to mix six of the record’s eight tracks.
Owing to their deep history, there’s a palpable familial energy to Slowdive in 2023. everything is alive 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. Those crossroads are reflected in the many-layered emotional tenor of Slowdive’s music; everything is alive is heavy with experience, but each note is poised, wise, and necessarily pitched to hope. Its unique alchemy subtly embodies both sadness and gratitude, groundedness and uplift. Reflecting on “kisses,” which may be Slowdive’s surest pop moment yet, Halstead said, “It wouldn’t feel right to make a really dark record right now. The album is quite eclectic emotionally, but it does feel hopeful.”
everything is alive, is exactly what the title suggests: an exploration into the shimmering nature of life and the universal touch points within it. Spanning psychedelic soundscapes, pulsating 80’s electronic elements and John Cale inspired journeys, the album lands immediately as something made for the future; which figures, as their fanbase has grown younger and younger as time has gone on, and their influence on forward thinking musical artists continues to prevail.
For a genre that is often thought of as divisive, and often warrants introspection, here Slowdive show their craft as the masters of it by pushing it outwards, beyond the singular; the end result being a record which feels as emotional and cathartic as it is optimistic.