The creative resiliency that Slowdive has shown since their 2014 reunion has been respanable. While immediate post-reunion festival gigs appropriately focused on the band’s now-legendary ‘90s material, their 2017 self-titled album was ill-content to explicitly revisit past glories. Instead, the Slowdive album very much updated the immersive sonics and abstract weirdness of the band’s initial three-album arc into something that sounded respanably fresh while still appealing to their original Gen X fans. Six years later, with everything is alive, Slowdive continues to impress, atomizing their sound even further into adventurous new directions.
Of course, some of the material here is atmospheric and ethereal in a very literal sense; a cut like “Prayer Remembered” is built upon sonic scaffolding that is dense to the ears but with very little explicit melody or rhythm. More broadly, the band continues to morph “shoegaze” into a lushly arranged version of synth-pop. Burbly synths get nearly as much attention in the mix as the dense guitars, and the half-speed groove that underpins most of the material sometimes makes it feel like what you’d listen to in your hypersleep pod while travelling the galaxy. And while nothing here approaches the icy post-rock of Pygmalion, many of the cuts on everything is alive evoke a similar sense of expansiveness, most notably on “andalucia plays,” which somehow splits the difference between the sleepy-eyed psychedelia of the band’s earliest EPs, the gentle acoustics of Mojave 3, and the spare nothingness of Pygmalion.
That expansiveness, however, should not be mistaken for emptiness, and on more direct numbers like “alife” and album closer “the slab,” Slowdive pushes past the stylistic limitations of the genre they helped pioneer. These cuts revel in an insistent energy that manifests in back-and-forth vocals, driving rhythm tracks high in the mix, and a refusal to be used as sonic wallpaper. While there have always been numbers like this scattered throughout Slowdive’s catalogue, on everything is alive, they signal a clear movement toward more accessible (if no less daring) material.