My Bloody Valentine pulled a technique that’s becoming more and more common: the sudden announcement. Out of nowhere on a Saturday night they announced that they were dropping MBV, their first new album in two decades, on their website. Millions gave up their Saturday night plans. #MBV the hashtag took over twitter and eventually outdid the Superbowl hashtag. Apparently the internet is full of aging music nerds and their offspring who share the same interests. This is a comforting thought.
Despite the complaints the album was out in a few short hours after the UK went to bed. That meant the US was the first market to get a fully functioning website after the bugs had been resolved. This was serious. What was shocking was how a band that had barely released a thing for over two decades could become so alive.
It is impossible to outdo Loveless. My Bloody Valentine to their credit doesn’t try to do that. An album like Loveless is a once in a career accomplishment. They knew that hence dragging their feet since the early nineties. Several breakdowns later, label issues resolved, MBV made it out. The fact it exists is shocking. Can the album spark a ‘Shoegaze’ revival? It should.
MBV is a three part act: there’s the classic beginning which starts out with the beauty one would expect from a Post-Loveless My Bloody Valentine, the surprisingly mellow interior, and the third act, most likely the drum and bass influenced section Kevin Shields mentioned in interviews.
Act I: The Classics
She Found Now
This begins the album off where Loveless ended. No volume could be appropriate or do it justice. Muscular without being outright industrial, it harnesses My Bloody Valentine’s natural knack for hiding melodies under so much hopeful haze. Drums here keep a pulse and do nothing more. This is a perfect beginning. Simple yet strong this is My Bloody Valentine’s legacy fulfilled.
“Only Tomorrow” continues down this path. Compared to “She Found Now” it turns up the fuzz a little bit. Yes it is large but manages to feel somewhat touchable. The drums are more prominent. Parts of the distortion feel completely satisfying like “Thank Goodness You’re Here”. Noise continues into the third track.
Who Sees You
Honestly this is the best track on the whole album. This in person would mean an extremely physical experience. Listening to it on anything feels overwhelming. Almost industrial in nature My Bloody Valentine sounds completely foreign. Few bands could pull this sort of thing off. Machine music as run by humans would be a good way of describing it.
Act II: The Cool Down
Is This and Yes
Oh cool they threw in a Stereolab track. That was nice of them. Now this makes sense why they’d throw this in after the previous three (heavier) tracks. Yet it goes on too long to be considered an interlude. Guitars are hidden. A purely keyboard-reliant My Bloody Valentine is the result. Enjoyable but different from what they’ve done in the past.
If I Am
Continuing with the lighter touch for the sweet center of the album, they at least bring the guitars back. Now the drums are more prominent too. Still the keyboard is in the background keeping track of everything. It is strange hearing the keyboard get that much attention. Still it delivers on being a mellower track with a nice melody.
Debuted at a recent London show this track was originally known as “Rough Song”. Honestly the bootleg from that concert sounded a bit meatier. There’s something a little weak about the album-mixed version, like it requires more in the way of bass or distortion. As a result it sounds a little thin compared to its concert-based incarnation.
Act III: Drum and Bass
In Another Way
Gnarled guitars begin. The amount of noise overwhelms at first. Drums are sped up. This is one of the three songs with a more drum and bass inspired rhythm. What makes this the best of the drum and bass inspired is their use of multiple patterns. Occasionally everything syncs up. Every time that happens it is fantastic. My Bloody Valentine runs wild on this one. It is the freest and most ambitious moment on the record.
Ultra-repetition never felt so good. Melodies do not exist. Rather this is the best of messing with the listener’s mind. They enjoy it. In case My Bloody Valentine didn’t already mess enough there’s this just as a totally demented track. Headphones are highly advised for this track.
Yes they really enjoy the drum and bass influence on this one. A keyboard comes in right as the guitars soar while a drum continues to hyperactively run around. “Wonder 2” feels overstuffed. Maybe this is to completely overwhelm the listener. No element seems to dominate. What results is a disorientating experience. Ending it with this feels like My Bloody Valentine wants the listener to know who is in charge.
While My Bloody Valentine fails to outdo Loveless they do prove that their work wasn’t for naught. Overall the album shows that My Bloody Valentine is at least returning back to their period of inspiration. Hopefully the next album (or release) won’t take another two decades.