|Front cover of "Souvlaki"|
Alison is the opening and it begins brilliantly, with those drifting guitar riffs that wander in your mind make you relax and just sink in a state of mind of trance. The lyrics are kind of enigmatic, but I relate them to teenage years and all those youthful things to do. I don't think it is a song about sorrow, but more about "not caring about anything" because you are a teenager/young adult.
Then follows "Machine Gun", this stunning and atmospheric beauty of a song. I think it's a song about drowning, at least drowning in your own sorrow and loneliness, an interpretation based on my own experience. Once this song starts, there's always a tear on the corner of the eye. Maybe it's Rachel's vocals, or the distant, "wavy" and floating guitar sounds, or just the melody, I don't know, but I remember when I first listened to it, I had the need to sob. Maybe at the time I was a little too sensitive, but that's what Slowdive makes to you. Nevertheless, the lyrics do not have much meaning in this song, all of the interpretation is based on the sound and the music only, not the lyrics. Perhaps there is a specific meaning, a symbolist one. The explanation I find is that "Son of yellow" may be referred to someone mentally ill, since yellow is the colour of madness, and that person might have drowned in it's own lunacy and hallucination. As to "Sheeba", according to my researches, it can whether mean marijuana or a very potent strain of LSD, or referred to someone who is nice, gentle and caring. Also, I found that Sheba is a hebrew name and it means "promise". The whole song mentions water and drowning, and that's something that has always attracted me.
"Sing" is a very hypnotising song, filled with distant vocals, Rachel's vocals. It's very much like the whole "Souvlaki" atmosphere, very aerial and etherial. I particularly love the beggining with the water sounds, those sounds you hear when you're underwater. They almost sound like water bubbles blowing up on your ears as you sink in a lake. Everything sounds much more mysterious, I'm speaking of my own experience as a swimmer, those sounds remind me so much of when I'm underwater, and I can see the thick and intense blue of the pool, as I watch my colleagues' legs fade as they're swimming. It's a beautiful image because water always brings me so much comfort. "Souvlaki Space Station" is, as "Sing", a very etherial song. It doesn't remind me of water though, reminds me of flying amongst cosmic universes.
"Here She Comes" is a short song, maybe too short. I wish it would have been longer, but those 2 minutes and 21 seconds are beautiful, whether musically whether lyrically. The metaphorical image of "There's a shadow on my wall, it dances like my soul" makes me think of some dual personality, someone who is two different people, and that person is aware of it. I personally identify it as the shadow of sadness of one's own, manifesting itself on what's supposed to be the real person's reflection. The title "Here She Comes" may be the personification of sadness as a female, since I've always identified sadness as a woman.
"When The Sun Hits" is a song about a girl that's fading into dust, dust of despair and misery, a girl whom you love more than anything, but inevitably, she's slipping away from your own fingers because she doesn't know how to stop giving in to severe and heavy depression, and I can find those evidences in "Sweet thing, I watch you burn so fast it scares me". It hurts very much to see a person that you care about so much trying to fight against despair and frustation and you can't do anything, you do you best to help, but it looks like everything's turning worse. It's a very personal song to me, and it touches me in a very deep and painful way.
Both "Mellon Yellow" and "Dagger" is another song about loving and suffering. The constant fear of losing the other person, of watching him/her slipping away, fading away, watching the previous and mutual happiness just disintegrating. This is a subject that is so terrifying for most people, specially for me. In Mellon Yellow, I notice that the songwriter has got a different way of showing his/her love, but since the other person won't understand, he just sits and watches everything fall apart. In Dagger, it's about the same girl that just feels too awful and too hurt, and he recognizes that he's the reason of her despair: "You know I am your dagger, You know I am your wound (world)". Yet, although the adversity in their relationship, he recalls her smile, and remembers himself that, maybe not everything is lost and all that remains is hope for both ("I didn't really lose you, I just lost you for a while".
I conlude this review by saying that it is a very personal album for me, and it's okay if your own interpretations are not even close to mine. In the end, music is an interpretation as well, just like poetry or visual arts as paintings and sculptures.