Livin' the Dreampop: Shoegaze in the 21st Century

It's been a memorable string of years for those who saw the heyday of spacerock, dreampop, and shoegaze as a pinnacle of UK indie music following in the wake of the iconoclastic era of 1980's post-punk. Contestably, it can be argued that shoegaze and the concurrent sounds of dreampop began with two bands; Robin Guthrie and Elizabeth Fraser's Cocteau Twins in the early 80s, and A.R. Kane, the late-80s British duo, who The Guardian credits as having "Invented Shoegaze without Really Trying". Representative of their influence, decades later both can be seen to rank highly on Pitchfork's "The 30 Best Dream Pop Albums of All Time". Not limited to the era of it's genesis, the sound is going though a second renaissance of sorts, with new bands stepping into the forum. The telltale distortion-soaked melodies, and submerged vocals of shoegaze and dreampop can be heard in the music of 21st century bands like Fazerdaze and Pinkshinyultrablast. On the other side of the globe from it's UK origins, a new generation of shoegaze is currently exploding across the south pacific, detailed in The Guardian's "'A Language We Use to Say Sentimental Things': How Shoegaze Took Over Asia".


At the head of this renaissance, many of the genre's most influential and formative acts have returned from extended hiatus, not only touring, but with new, and relevant material. The Guardian's "Shoegaze: The Genre that Could Not be Killed", and New York Times' "Shoegaze, the Sound of Protest Shrouded in Guitar Fuzz, Returns", best encapsulating this resurgence. Many of these bands not only improbable in their return, but some verging on the impossible. This summer, we're not only witness to the fourth domestic tour since the reformation of My Bloody Valentine, which came on the heels of their first album in 22 years, but Kevin Shields' promise of new forthcoming material. Even more improbable, the reformation of Neil Halstead, Simon Scott, Nick Chaplin, Rachel Goswell and Christian Savill, after their legendarily messy breakup in the 1990's. Slowdive not only reformed to tour, but produced one of the greatest albums of their career. Other unlikely returns have been seen in  Robert Hampson reforming LOOP, the one-time-only North american visit from Lush's brand of 4AD dreampop, and tours and the first new material of decades from The Jesus and Mary Chain, and Ride. Second only to the decade of the sound's origin, it's a great time for listeners avid for more of shoegaze' blissed-out fuzz and melancholic melodicism. For those just entering into the neon torrent of it's sound, you'd not go far wrong beginning with The Guardian's  "Shoegaze: A Beginner's Guide", and the Cherry Red label's assembly of a perfect overview with their compilation, Still in a Dream: The Story of Shoegaze 1988-1995