Thursday, February 7, 2013

My Bloody Valentine - MBV

When the new My Bloody Valentine album unexpectedly dropped in the world's lap on the weekend, no one was expecting it and frankly, no one was expecting it to be this good. Through all the missteps, broken promises and the seemingly endless twenty two year wait for MBV, the mythos and love for it's predecessor Loveless grew and grew. It is a sprawling, amorphous throbbing glimmer of an album that seems somehow unformed yet perfect in every way. It reminds you of a girl, a boy, a time, a place, a feeling. It is transcendent yet deeply personal (I like Max's poetic recounting of his relationship with Loveless here). I'm sure we all share similar stories and I often feel that a person doesn't take music seriously if they don't respect (if not outright love) that record. As the MBV website went into meltdown on Sunday, I sat pressing f5 over and over again I listened to Loveless on repeat for four straight hours. Even that mundane task of checking a broken website took second place to Loveless - it is an album that cannot be ignored or be played in the background, it demands and deserves full attention of the listener. I barely play it when other people are around as I know my mind will wander to those angelic shards of guitar. I had to get that fanboy bit out first because MBV doesn't try to top Loveless, it comfortably knows its place and revels in its own beauty.
So, how's does it sound? Well, MBV sounds exactly like it should, it sounds like a My Bloody Valentine record. While people decry it for sounding like the early 90's, let's get this straight: My Bloody Valentine didn't sound like the early 90's in the early 90's, they've always sounded as if they've stepped through a wormhole from another universe. Sure, shoegaze blah blah but let's face it, as good as Ride, Swervedriver etc were they never managed to equal or surpass the sonic weirdness or delicacy of My Bloody Valentine. The album starts perfectly with She Found Now, it isn't a forceful track but quietly and confidently announces a sound that's been awol for 20 years. The following two tracks are similarly unforceful, just pure slabs of MBV pop - whatever that is. From there, the album flows and builds from the stately organ of Is this and yes to the final track that Wonder 2 which sounds like it was literally recorded in a helicopter. Like a fucked up off world symphony, the final six tracks glide together but build upon each other but is most exciting during the percussive thunder of In Another Way and the machine fire drone of Nothing Is. Make no mistake, all of it is good.

Sure, there isn't an Only Shallow or Soon on the record but realistically, how could there be? Whatever the case, My Bloody Valentine have done something very rare in the world of music, they have released a late career record that adds and cements their legacy without detracting from their early glories. Kevin Shields maybe an inscrutable and frustrating band leader to lead us on this merry dance for twenty odd years (he obviously didn't spend that time working on the album title) but I guess it never occurred to most of us he might know exactly what he's doing. Somehow the world felt like a better place this week to me because of this record and really, what else do you want from your music.


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