20 years of Slowdive’s Pygmalion
Slowdive’s third album just like its predecessor was completely and utterly overlooked upon release. Some may blame that on Creation who were now focused on delivering hits, but the press were also definitely to blame.
The album was released on February 6th 1995, laddish behaviour was in fashion, Loaded magazine had somehow captured the mood. It was also a time when the music press became obsessed with sales figures just like a teenager obsessed with number of social media friends they have.
John Harris gave it 5/10 in the NME and made no secret of his dislike of Slowdive and Ride in his boring Britpop documentary over a decade later. His review in NME stated the album will sell “fart all” and that “Disc jockeys and TV programmers will yelp – I can’t do anything with this” thus completely missing the point, not all music is made purely to make money.
The fact that Creation actually released the thing in the first place should be celebrated, not many labels who’d recently released one of the biggest albums of the decade (Definitely Maybe) would have even considered allowing the band to go back into the studio, let alone release one of the most experimental albums in its catalogue.
It has been claimed the album was a protest to Creation by Neil Halstead as they demanded hits and in 1995 no song on Pygmalion stood any chance of being a hit. Slowdive were also no longer a fully functioning band and Neil Halstead was experimenting with electronics in an attempt to move away from their previous sound. The band weren’t to play any tracks from the album live until their reunion in 2014.
As Sonic Cathedral stated a few years ago had the album been released on Warp it would have immediately been hailed a classic, instead it was released on the same label that released The Boo Radleys ‘Wake Up Boo!’ a few weeks later. Whilst The Boo Radleys single was the most played song of the year on UK radio Slowdive were dropped from their record deal.
There are plenty of treats to be had in Pygmalion, the band clearly agree as their recent live sets contained more tracks from the album than their 1991 debut ‘Just For A Day’. The beautiful ‘Blue Skied an’ Clear’ being a highlight whilst other tracks such as Rutti, Visions of LA and Crazy For You have influenced a whole generation of bands.
In 1995 the album may have sounded out of place, but in 2015 it sounds bloody wonderful…