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Album Review: Souvlaki

By Anthony Taboada posted Feb 14, 2014 at 05:04 PM

Anthony reviews his favorite album from the recently reunited Slowdive. 

Artist:  Slowdive
Album:  Souvlaki
Year:  1993
Label:  Creation Records


The 1990’s weren’t very kind to the English band Slowdive.  Although they were one of the quintessential shoegaze bands that emerged at the start of the decade, the genre’s sound as a whole was not well received by the public, as many favored Britpop or grunge.  Poor album sales, harsh criticism, and creative differences ultimately led to the band being dropped from their record label, followed by their break-up in 1995.  It may not have seemed like it at the time, but their six-year tenure as a band would later prove to be extremely influential in the underground rock scene, thanks to their 1993 sophomore album, Souvlaki.
The album takes its name from a skit by comedy act The Jerky Boys (much like Radiohead’s 1993 debut, Pablo Honey), but the music is the furthest thing from a joke.  Filled with heavily processed guitars, oblique lyrics, ethereal vocals, and otherworldly synths occasionally provided by ambient pioneer Brian Eno, this album (along with My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless) is partly responsible for spawning the new wave of shoegaze-influenced bands that formed in the new millennium. 

Although there are a few standout tracks on this album (such as the hazy love song “Alison” and the space-rock epic “Souvlaki Space Station”), it is not simply a collection of songs.  Rather, it is an experience that should be listened to from start to finish for the full effect.  This psychedelic classic surprisingly ends with an acoustic guitar ballad entitled “Dagger,” which almost predicts frontman Neil Halstead’s later career as a folk singer. 

Upon its release in 1993, Souvlaki failed to gain momentum as a significant work of art, but it eventually managed to gain the appreciation it deserved.  In fact, the demand for a Slowdive reunion never managed to fade, and after nearly twenty years since breaking up, the band recently decided they would give it another go.

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