Saturday, January 22, 2011

Slowdive - "Holding Our Breath" (LP Review)

I'm a big fan of Slowdive and had thought I had the entire discography, but I recently discovered they had quite a number of singles and EPs prior to their breakthrough 1991 LP "Just for a Day". Eager to complete my collection, I recently acquired their 1991 4-song EP "Holding Our Breath". It is out of print, so I ended up purchasing the EP on iTunes since the going price for a CD is pretty steep. The EP appears to be the "Catch the Breeze" 7" single extended with two more songs.

The four songs showcase the band's sound firmly in the shoegazing genre: swirling guitar effects, dreamy vocals, slow rhythms; this EP is arguably more in the shadow of MBV than their later LPs. "Golden Hair" is a cover of a Syd Barrett song (actually a James Joyce poem Barrett set to music), "Catch the Breeze" (which appears on "Just for a Day") and "Albatross" are solid songs, but the standout is "Shine".

I love the vocal duo of Rachel Goswell and Neil Halstead, but "Shine" just reinforces what I think of every time I listen to an LP from Slowdive or Mojave 3 (a post-Slowdive band featuring Goswell & Halstead): Rachel should have sang more frequently/prominently. Her voice fits the genre perfectly. Nothing against Neil, but while he seemed to be featured of the duo, it was Rachel that really defined their sound. She is the primary (only?) vocalist on "Shine" and the result is an achingly beautiful song, maybe even Slowdive's best.

Standout songs: "Shine", "Catch the Breeze" (live version 1991), "Albatross"

Skip 'em songs: none.

Final score: 7/10. "Golden Hair" is nothing special, and "Catch the Breeze" appears elsewhere. I thought about giving it a 6/10, but "Shine" elevates it to the point that a serious collection should have this EP. I hope to eventually acquire a hard copy version in the future.

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