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My Bloody Valentine – m b v

on February 08, 2013, 12:03am
mbv high res A+
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Kevin Shields never needed to follow up Loveless. My Bloody Valentine’s critically acclaimed sophomore album thwarted critics, artists, and fans alike in November 1991, and decades later that hasn’t changed. The album — from its glossy, candy-coated artwork to the 11 tracks that span 48:36 — floats in a timeless vacuum, similar to Arthur C. Clarke’s interstellar monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey. It established a watermark for the genre and warped people’s perspective on rock ‘n’ roll; as Chuck Klosterman once wrote, “Whenever anyone uses the phrase swirling guitars, this record is why.”

Now there’s m b v, the next chapter in My Bloody Valentine’s brief catalog of work. Since its mid-’90s inception, the album’s been plagued with hiccups, stemming from personal meltdowns to outright rejections. To Shields’ credit, he’s always remained steadfast at doing the unthinkable, teasing fans with histrionic statements like, “We are 100 percent going to make another My Bloody Valentine record unless we die or something.” So, naturally, whatever came after Loveless was destined to be an event.

And that’s always been the problem. Such events are typically met with a box of tissues and overwhelming disappointment, especially for something stewed in years of hype and trepidation. (Think of it this way: There’s only a few success stories like Brian Wilson’s Smile, but there are countless cautionary Chinese Democracy tales.) With m b v, an album that will forever be preceded by the title card “21 Years Later”, it falls into that rare moment where one’s tortured genius is both appreciated and understood. That’s because there isn’t a more fitting album Shields could have created.

m b v is a seamless transition from Loveless. Hit play on “Soon”, let it ring out, and wait for the jet-lagged reverberations of “She Found Now”. The track’s mercurial sighs and ionized guitar lines nearly echo from its predecessor. The whole thing drips with this syrupy emotional residue that’s always been one of the fascinating hallmarks of My Bloody Valentine. The gummy distortion soothes like a warm hug from a close friend you initially thought was dead, which by all means is a proper reintroduction to our dusty adorations for such a left-field outfit.

But that’s “all part of the plan,” as Shields eases everyone into this album by trotting off with a number of tracks that feel relatively similar to Loveless. Stuttering guitars (“Only Tomorrow”), seasick distortion (“Who Sees You”), and spectral overdubs (“If I Am”) should pencil in smiles on those who’ve long eroded “What You Want”, “Loomer”, and “Come In Alone”, respectively. Even the funky, jovial nature of the straightforward, Belinda Butcher-led “New You” should recall the accessible mall culture stylings of “Soon” — and there’s absolutely no reason why anyone wouldn’t adore the little drops Shields injects here.

It’s not until the last three tracks, however, that m b v really starts pushing My Bloody Valentine ahead into its future. The jangly jungle grooves of “In Another Way” boil over house beats and adventurous guitar lines that crunch and undulate beneath a beacon of synths. It’s an abrupt pace that’s soon outmatched by the post-hardcore drone of “Nothing Is”, which is then surpassed by the inflight catastrophe of “Wonder 2″. And finally, after six frantic minutes, the album’s wind tunnel coda cuts off abruptly like some lost transmission.

Sequencing plays a vital role in m b v. For the most part, it’s a standard climb that scales higher with each sequential track, but it’s the swift throttling towards the mesosphere around track seven, “In Another Way”, that separates the album from Loveless or their oft-neglected 1988 full-length debut, Isn’t Anything. It eschews the heart and gnaws right at the brains, shifting their one-of-a-kind brand of shoegaze into something that’s startling, visceral, and almost apocalyptic. It’s as if Shields wired together an aural mission statement that dutifully orchestrates what was and what will be for My Bloody Valentine.

“I wanted to see what would happen if I worked in a more impressionistic way, so that it only comes together at the end,” Shields told NME last year. It’s not the most orthodox way of creating an album, but it works wonders for m b v. Just as the cover art’s subdued earth-toned blues imply, it’s a decompression from the otherworldly expedition that is Loveless. While that doesn’t make it a better album than its predecessor, it doesn’t have to be. Instead, m b v creates a new timeline for My Bloody Valentine, and one that recalls the past in a broader and bolder light. They’re better for it, their catalog is stronger for it, and by album’s end, they’re still the best at swirling guitars.

Essential Tracks: “She Found Now”, “Only Tomorrow”, “New You”, and “Wonder 2″

Feature artwork by Steven Fiche:

cos my bloody valentine steven fiche 600 e1360212236356 Album Review: My Bloody Valentine   m b v

Purchase this artwork (via Society6): Print || Canvas || iPhone Case || Laptop Skin

23 comments

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Mike
February 9, 2013 at 8:49 am

“Wonder 2″ is straight trolling. So douchey to think that track is any sort of good.

mote
February 8, 2013 at 4:46 pm

whereas loveless was underrated at the time and isnt anything has become underrated in its shadow, this album is incredibly overrated. its incredible some of the things being said about it. the history of noise rock has been completely rewritten to accommodate some of the praise thrown at “the originators of guitar noise” claimed by some of the reviewers. (ehmm does nobody in the uk remember sonic youth?). i was hoping for an album of gems like city girl or l.a human dance steps, instead we get ok-ish loveless imitations, meandering chord progressions, some late 90s strereolab lounge-gaze, a guitar loop that actually doesn’t do anything and an almost good song at the end thats ruined by a naff drum’n’bass beat which made me seek out my 3rd eye foundation albums to hear approach this done properly. i ADORE my bloody valentines back catalog but i cant get my head around this album at all. ill just keep pretending that “october language” by belong is the real new valentines album and be content with that

Narcission
February 9, 2013 at 5:12 am

I have read numerous (INCLUDING SO-CALLED PROFESSIONAL) reviews about this album and yours is the one that speaks the most sense.. this is an OK album and hopefully will release Mr Shields from his burden to produce..

mote
February 9, 2013 at 5:58 am

thanks, im just a disappointed fan and i think the reviews for it have been terrible. anyone iv talked to feels the dsame yet i go online and everyone is calling it a “masterpiece”.i love mr shields guitar sound but that cant disguise what, for me, are average songs. not since the horrors awful skying album have i read such emperors new clothes type reviews.

R M
February 8, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Next time you make a bespoke montage of a band, perhaps do five minutes research so you don’t end up devoting the majority of it to their obscure and generic early output.

digitaldebris
February 8, 2013 at 2:09 pm

Generic? Okay, so you don’t like their work. But it’s pretty much the opposite of “generic” in that it sounds like nothing else made before it or since. There’s no accounting for taste, of course, but you can’t honestly dismiss MBV as being just another 90s band.

R M
February 8, 2013 at 3:29 pm

You obviously didn’t bother to actually comprehend my comment instead of vaguely scanning it. Please try doing that in future.

I love their later output. My point was that almost nobody cares much about “This Is Your Bloody Valentine” and “Geek”. They’re obscure and uninteresting early releases of the band in an embryonic stage; Kevin Shields doesn’t care about them either.

So their prominent place in this artwork shows that whoever made it had no idea who My Bloody Valentine are; they clearly just typed their name into Wikipedia and threw the album covers they found together. It looks ridiculous.

digitaldebris
February 8, 2013 at 3:33 pm

Okay, Mr. Persnickety, point taken! I’m not sure how often we’ll cross paths in the future, but I’ll make sure I don’t forget how important it is to “comprehend” your comment. I’m a huge MBV fan but so many MBV fans are such emo douchebags.

R M
February 8, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Cool. It’s just rather silly behaviour to berate somebody when you’ve only read one word of their comment. You get that, right..?

digitaldebris
February 8, 2013 at 3:42 pm

You’re good — you know exactly how many words of your comment I read! Goodbye.

R M
February 8, 2013 at 3:42 pm

One. It was ‘generic’.

digitaldebris
February 8, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Sorry I hurt your feelings. I’m sure you’ll get over it (even if you fail to get over yourself).

R M
February 8, 2013 at 4:30 pm

Lol, let’s not be childish now. Have a nice evening, keep up the MBV love.

digitaldebris
February 8, 2013 at 4:36 pm

You’re a poopy head! (just kidding!)

Steven Fiche
February 8, 2013 at 7:33 pm

I don’t normally respond to trolls, but since I’m the gentleman who created the montage you’re referring to, I’ll bite.

You obviously didn’t bother to actually comprehend my [artwork] instead of vaguely scanning it. Please try doing that in future.

But seriously, yes, the collage features a blending of LP, EP and single covers in a nightmarish dreamscape. That was the point. The Jazzmaster neck is protruding from the Loveless cover, serving as an escape from MBV’s previous efforts into the latest album.

Giddy Up
February 8, 2013 at 11:51 am

I really, truly, seriously do not understand the ‘wonder 2′ love, both here and elsewhere. It’s a crappy Stereolab-outtake-on-helium of a ‘song. ‘nothing is’ is even worse.

*inserts standard disclaimer to the effect that maybe it’s just me, blah, blah*

?? T?n S?
February 13, 2013 at 5:55 am

it’s normal for me, not so crappy and yes, “nothing is” is too long only makes senses in context of the album. Shields had done better things with Primal Scream. In the end, this album is wholly overrated.

Paul
February 8, 2013 at 11:14 am

what does Slowdive have to do with anything?

arrow2010
February 8, 2013 at 5:39 am

So let’s pretend Pygamalion never happened right?

Zach
February 8, 2013 at 10:52 pm

Just because it doesn’t sound like Souvlaki? If you push past the ‘shoegaze band’ label, Pygmalion is one of the most haunting and unique records of the ’90s.

arrow2010
February 9, 2013 at 4:13 am

That’s my point exactly, but the music media in the UK would have us believe that album never happened.

Zach
February 9, 2013 at 1:31 pm

Ah, I misunderstood. I’d be fascinated to see what a Slowdive reunion would sound like today, even more so than MBV (which still sounds like the MBV of 1991 to me, as welcome as that is).

?? T?n S?
February 14, 2013 at 2:37 am

fucking underrated album.

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