Hard to imagine now but at the time of its release 'Souvlaki' was described by the music press as a "soulless void" and "pretty but unfulfilled" yet nowadays it is accorded special praise amongst shoegazing fans as something approaching a masterpiece. Quite right too but moreover 'Souvlaki' is an ambitious, diverse record which is as nightmarish as it is dreamy and as forceful as it is gentle.
The lead track 'Alison' shows the way with vocals pushed to the foreground and an all-enveloping production that is simply gorgeous. Likewise, '40 Days' is essentially another great pop tune where the verses are every bit as strident as the wordless chorus. Whereas Slowdive songs were once seen as easily washed away pleasantness, now they were beginning to sound vital and - as recent times have proved - influential. Perhaps appreciative of this idea, Brian Eno co-wrote 'Sing'; a brave, experimental number that is deliciously dark and cavernous with Eno bringing his understanding of space to proceedings. The accusations of soullessness can be swiftly countered by 'Here She Comes' and 'Dagger' in which sparsely arranged songs allow Halstead and Goswell to reveal that they really were hopeless romantics after all. In between these ballads is the thunderous centrepiece 'Souvlaki Space Station' followed by the similarly huge-sounding 'When The Sun Hits' and 'Melon Yellow'. All in all, pretty stunning.
There's much joy to be had with the bonus CD on this reissue including a likeable cover of 'Some Velvet Morning'. Perhaps more importantly, though, the more ambient likes of 'In Mind', 'Good Day Sunshine' and 'Missing You' point the way to the emotionally intense material on Bark Psychosis' 'Hex' as well as Slowdive's swansong; the considerably more minimalist 'Pygmalion'.