Maya’s Mixtape: Slowdive


Maya Jayaram

Introduction to Maya’s Mixtape:

Maya’s Mixtape is a biweekly column intended to draw attention to lesser-known artists and feature in-depth looks into their music. For requests, suggestions, and questions, email [email protected].


Original members of the Grateful Dead reunited in 2015 to perform in a reunion band, Dead & Company, along with guitarist and singer John Mayer. Although Dead & Company’s rendition of “Sugar Magnolia” was stunning, it fell short of the song’s album version, which features the classic, authentic vocals of the late Jerry Garcia. Rarely do we see bands coming out of a hiatus with music of higher quality; English indie pop band Slowdive seems to be one of the few exceptions.

A Brief History:

Slowdive was formed in 1989 with members Neal Halstead and Rachel Goswell on vocals and guitar, Simon Scott on drums, Nick Chaplan on bass, and Christian Savill on guitar. The band toured with alternative rock band Blur, released three albums titled Just For a Day, Souvlaki, Pygmalion, and then went on hiatus in 1995. In January 2017, the band reconvened to produce the single Star Roving, and in May released a self-titled record.

The Best:

“Sugar for the Pill”

The song opens with five echoed chords before quickly incorporating multiple guitars and a basic drum rhythm. Halstead’s ambient vocals layered with Goswell’s soft background harmonies provide a feeling of nostalgia and cathartic bliss to its listener. Lyrically, the song is breathtaking. It dives into the pain and heartbreak of being in love with somebody, but having to accept that the relationship is not meant to last. Halstead presents the lyrics in a delicate manner in “Sugar for the Pill,” and invites the listener to step on board a confusing, bittersweet rollercoaster of despair. Of all the songs on Slowdive, this track is the most emotionally ridden, and that is what makes it perfection.

Other incredible tracks:


“Crazy For You”


The Worst:

“Star Roving”

“Dream pop shoegaze” was the term used to describe Slowdive’s style of music in the ‘90s; it refers to neo-psychedelia alternative rock with atmospheric vocals. Now, however, Slowdive has taken a turn toward a cleaner alternative rock sound, but with the intention of remaining within the shoegaze genre. “Star Roving” is a prime example of the attempted shift from Slowdive’s previous sound to its new one. The basic, repetitive rhythm guitar lacks originality and the layers of guitar delay are too convoluted to comprehend. To put it simply, the song has the potential to be beautiful, but its messy instrumentation and vocals do not work to its advantage.

Support the Band:

Links to Slowdive’s Spotify and iTunes profiles are below. Tickets are on sale now for the band’s October 28 show at Fox Theater in Oakland.