Despite being a pretty big Slowdive fan, I have never given Pygmalion a listen. That changes today, as yesterday the 180 gram vinyl reissue by Music On Vinyl arrived in the mail. I’ll start by doing a quick unboxing of the record, then I’ll give it a spin and tell you my thoughts!
Unboxing Video: Pygmalion by Slowdive
I finally pulled the trigger and picked up Pygmalion on vinyl after eyeing it for a few months. I was able to snag a copy off Amazon and decided to film a little vinyl unboxing, as has been my M.O. of late. Here’s the video, where I talk a little about the record and the band as well:
So, what isn’t in the video is that my copy came with a mild warp.
I’ve noticed this happening more and more of late. Modern vinyl producers seem to have trouble making truly flat records. Actually, what’s more likely the case is that either those who distribute aren’t storing them properly or the lack of temperature regulation during shipping is causing them to develop a minor warp.
Mostly this is a visual issue, and typically doesn’t impact play. The problem is when it does impact play and you can hear an audible warble to the music. An album like this, which is incredibly mellow may expose the listener to such flaws. Thankfully my copy doesn’t seem to have that trait.
Alright, let’s take a look at the music.
A First Listen to Slowdive’s Third LP
I’ve been a big fan of Slowdive for years now, and was pretty thrilled when they resurfaced with their self-titled LP in 2017. Just for a Day, their debut 1991 release is excellent, as was the classic Souvlaki from two years later.
Pygmalion, however, pretty much stayed off my radar. In fact, February 1, 2022 was the first day I gave it a full listen. And I did so on my new copy of the 180 Gram Music on Vinyl reissue on black wax.
Here’s “Crazy For You:”
The band’s third LP is mellow throughout–much more so than their first two records. It’s dreamy album opener “Rutti” chimes in at just over 10 minutes, setting the tone for an album ripe to put you in a meditative state.
While you could argue the same for Souvlaki and Just for A Day, those pushed the volume up quite a bit closer to swirling, fuzzed out sounds of My Bloody Valentine in comparison. No, Pygmalion is almost TOO dreamy to be called shoegaze! Ambient post rock may be a better set of descriptors
Take for example “Miranda” and “Trellisaze” which round out the A side. These two songs transcend conciousness with atmospheric and ethereal melodies. Take a listen to the former, and you’ll hear what I mean:
Overall, the album is minimal when it comes to vocals. At least quite a bit more minimal than their previous ones.
It’s a big straying from their first two albums, but I can appreciate that about an album like this. I love the sounds, and how it took the band down a quite different path. Even if it is a bit strange at times:
But, that being said, it’s not as accessible as Slowdive’s earlier work or what they gave us in 2017. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hold up on its own, nor does it mean it lacks in merit.
I love Pygmalion and I think it’ll be a mainstay on my turntable for the foreseeable future, and it’ll likely strike within me the desire to resurrect the rest of Slowdive’s library a bit more frequently as well.
What are your thoughts on Pygmalion? And what is your favorite album by Slowdive? Let me know in the comments!