Sound — 10
As all other shoegazing bands of the '90s, Slowdive were heavily influenced by My Bloody Valentine's textured drones. Unlike the others, Slowdive were successful in finding their own voice in a scene of very similar artists. Whereas their debut, "Just For A Day" was much more generic in sound, "Souvlaki" stands out as the band's attainment of a unique identity. Each song on "Souvlaki" sounds very different yet the album is united by a very obvious pop sensibility that renders even the strangest, most experimental tracks very accessible. Covering a range of sounds from the wall of noise of "When The Sun Hits"'s chorus to the vast amounts of space used in "Sing" and the twangy straightforward strumming of "Alison", this album stands as the Slowdive album that covers the most ground in a single go.
Lyrics — 8
As is the case with most shoegazing bands, Slowdive keep thier vocals so low in the vix that the lyrics are often questionnable, if not indecipherable: five different lyrics site will usually give you five completely different lyrics for any given song off of Souvlaki. The bit's that are audible, however, often showcase the psychadelic art-gouse sensibility that would define their next album, "Pygmalion". Toying with a range of themes, from the deep and mournful (and sometimes even menacingly sexual) to the druggy, spaced out and apathetic, Slowdive breaks the shoegazing norm by devoting a great deal of energy to saying it exactly the way they mean it. Singers Rachel Goswell and Neil Halstead share vocal duties, alternating between soft, spoken passages and sections of angelic mourning, calling to mind both the spaced-out deadpans of Spacemen 3 and the melodic cooing of The Cocteau Twins, but visibly building up the foundations laid by these artists.
Overall Impression — 10
Slowdive's Souvlaki is one of the key albums of the shoegazing genre, combining elements of the pure pop of Ride and the eccentric avant-gardism of My Bloody Valentine to create an album that is both accessible and artful. Almost every song on this album sounds like a single, with obvious pop hooks and skillful use of dynamics buried under layers of sonic experimentation. "Souvlaki Space Station" stands out as the highlight of the album, a five minute track of spacey pitch-shifting and layered vocals. Some tracks make masterful use of minimalistic structures ("Sing"), while others's strength lies in their layered, textured sound ("Machine Gun", "When The Sun Hits". Overall, this is possibly the best shoegazing album released, incorporating elements of every facet of the genre. It is an album that has yet to be surpassed in terms of variety.