NEW SINGLES: Slowdive VS Shrine

NEW SINGLES: Slowdive VS Shrine

Slowdive tease new full length with second single “skin in the game,” while Shine impress with debut.

Slowdive’s story is one that might wind up in rock music lore. They were a band that was once dismissed as riding coattails of artists that had been celebrated a mere one to two years prior. They’re not only releasing their best work nearly 30 years later, but they’ve now become the de-facto influence for thousands of copycats. 2017’s self-titled return (after 20+ years disbanded) was heralded by critics and fans alike. And six years later - as the genre that Slowdive helped to define seems poised to have its breakthrough moment in mainstream culture - we’re close to being graced with another record.


The second single from Slowdive’s forthcoming everything is alive, “skin in the game,” is both true to form and capable of reminding us that the band has never been comfortable being boxed-in. It will satisfy longtime fans with all the hallmark tonal signatures: reverb-drenched guitars, melancholy landscapes with both Halstead and Goswell providing vocals, and even some acoustic guitar. It’s more on the delicate and sparse end of the Slowdive spectrum, until the three minute mark - at which point, we get nearly a minute of a comparatively upbeat guitar lead refrain. While it sits nicely in their catalog, there is an underlying sense in this track that could lead one to believe they might be interested less these days in hiding genuinely well-written and contemplative songs under mountains of distortion, modulation, and echo. The vocal is nearly whispered throughout the entirety of the single, and upon repeated listening, it becomes more and more evident that the signature guitars-as-synth pads may just be an afterthought, even if effective.


To the opposite end, Indonesia’s shoegazing newcomers Shine place all bets on those same elements that Slowdive seem keen to brush aside, on the opening track of their debut EP. “Serenity” could be an unreleased song from Slowdive’s classic, Souvlaki. It even ends with the same oscillated delay pedal feedback that brings “Souvlaki Space Station” to an end. The choice of notes and chords, and the tag-teamed male and female vocals all bring the listener about as close as possible to the sound of Slowdive, albeit some 25+ years ago, when they seemed more interested in building an inescapable fortress of guitar noise around their songs than standing confidently behind them.


As close as Shine comes to biting Slowdive’s past sonic glory, it should not serve to dismiss their ability to craft a piece of music very much worth adding to your playlist. “Serenity” is a fantastic single in its own right, with its crashing waves of dramatic upper register guitar offering a fair amount of excitement to what is otherwise indeed serene. And, although their nationality has little noticeable effect on the tonal fingerprint of their music, the fact that a once tiny sub genre from Western culture has infiltrated Indonesia to the point of giving us all another perfectly listenable group of ‘gazers is reason enough to give “Serenity,” if not their entire EP, a listen or ten.


While Slowdive has once again gifted us with something truly special and satisfying, while signaling new and exciting possibilities, fans of shoegaze should not sleep on Shine’s “Serenity.” It wouldn’t be out of line to suggest that some of you may even choose these newcomers and their debut over their progenitors. Both are certainly worth your attention, even at a time when you can blindly throw your shoe and likely hit something at least shoegaze-adjacent. But, if we must pick a favorite of the two - and we do…because that’s simply what we do at Pop War - Slowdive is our pick this time around.




Back to blog