Slowdive ~ Sugar For The Pill [2⊘17]

It felt like we were in a movie that had a totally implausible ending…

Look closely and you should notice the picture icon above is a cockeyed “blue” smiley-face pill with eyes, nose, and mouth a darkly golden hewn. Says lead singer/songwriter Halstead, “As a child, I was given medicine on a sugar cube, cough medicine, or whatever it was, it would be dipped in to make it more pleasant. It’s the idea that an unpleasant thing that can make you feel better, needs to be sweetened.”

“There’s a blizzard of gulls,
They’re drumming in the wind,
Only lovers alive,
Running in the dark”

Originally formed in Reading, England in 1989, Slowdive released its first album in 1991, highly-praised in the shoegaze scene along with like-minded band My Bloody Valentine. The band folded in 1995 with the remaining members reforming as Mojave III on label 4AD. And yet, 22 years later in 2017 they regrouped and released their eponymous fourth album from which Sugar For The Pill was their second single. Although Halstead was supposedly more influenced by Pink Floyd than by the Sex Pistols, Slowdive’s formative pop experiences involved post-punk groups like The Cure and Siouxsie and the Banshees, whose artsy approach was closer to ’70s progressive groups than punk’s angry minimalism. []

What I tend to do when I’m working on a track is I try to create situations where happy accidents happen and Pro Tools (Digital Audio Workstation or DAW) is brilliant for this. It’s an amazing sort of creative tool as well as being quite a sensible editing machine. It’s also just brilliantly insensible because you can create situations that are really spontaneous because you can literally just chop a track up and throw bits of it all around the room, just see what comes out of the chaos and occasionally you get these really sweet little moments“, shares Halstead. Their sound was partially created by the use of Epiphone Casino electric guitars, “I used to have a problem with guitars feeding back because we play very loud. And I always liked the sounds of the Casinos, but because they’re hollow-bodied (electric) and they’re quite cheap guitars, I realized if I filled it a little bit with something, you could stop it feeding back and it would still sound the way you wanted it to sound, so it has bubble-wrap inside it to stop it feeding back. It’s not very rock-n-roll but it’s sorta somewhat controllable.

Sugar for the pill,
You know it’s just the way things are,
Can’t abide the sun,
This jealousy will break the whole

The beautifully serene track’s lyrics are a nod to Andrea Arnold’s novel Wuthering Heights. Halstead continues, “I was reading (it) and I think some of that made its way into the song. There’s a feeling of that kind of wild Heathcliff quality in the song a little bit. The doomed romance of Heathcliff and Cathy’s involvement, and it’s very connected to the nature they live in […] this […] wild, windy moor, you know, and it becomes, I suppose, a metaphor for their own relationship.

“Cut across the sky,
And move a little closer now,
Lying in a bed of greed,
You know I had the strangest dream”

2 thoughts on “Slowdive ~ Sugar For The Pill [2⊘17]

    1. Thanks! The song feels so timeless I was surprised to find it was from 2017. I kind of assumed you had already showcased it at some point. I’m glad I was able to finally share something back!

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