My Bloody Valentine – m b v
Of all the album reviews I’ve ever written, this is by far the hardest. Where do I start? Shall I begin with the long preamble about ‘seminal’ 1991 album Loveless? Or focus mostly on the long and protracted release of this follow-up? Maybe it would be better to frame the review around what the return of My Bloody Valentine means for music in 2013 – concentrating on why the return of Kevin Shields’ singular approach to making and recording music is a blessing in these times of sterile and formulaic pop music?
But by now you know all that, and you’ve probably listened to m b v a lot since it was released online last weekend. I know I have, and initially I was disappointed. Even though I knew expecting Loveless 2.0 was not only unrealistic but also unfair on Kevin Shields (despite him having the thick end of a quarter of a century to get it right!), I still expected to be instantly blown away by those trademark swirling guitars. I wasn’t. Opener ‘she found now’ creeped from the speakers like an embarrassed apology for being away so long. ‘Only Tomorrow’ also disappointed, starting off like a gentle funeral dirge before muddying its own waters with an out-of-place flash of harmonica.
This general sense of underwhelmed passivity continued for the whole of the first listen of m b v. But I persevered. All week I persevered, and it wasn’t until about Thursday, on roughly the sixth or seventh listen, that something clicked and suddenly all the heavy layers of m b v jumped out at me at once. The subtle peal of the lead guitar towards the end of ‘Only Tomorrow’ suddenly made sense. Where ’Who Sees You’ once trudged, it now shimmered. Bilinda Butcher’s breathy and murky vocals on ’If I Am’ and ’New You’ now resonated with all the soul, pain, joy and emotion I first expected.
Basically, I had tuned into m b v’s very particular frequency – and now I don’t want to listen to anything else (despite having a new Nick Cave album to get stuck into!). The final three song burst of ‘In Another Way’, ‘nothing is’ and ‘Wonder 2’ are mesmerising, better perhaps than anything Shields has done so far, and confirm that he and the rest of My Bloody Valentine still have a few tricks up their sleeves.
Once you get pulled into Kevin Shields’ woozy world of multiple guitar tracks, androgynous vocals and slightly off-kilter time signatures, it doesn’t matter where the album came from, how long it took to come out, what preceded it and what will be released next. Nothing matters but the here and now. Forget Loveless, forget the 22 year wait, forget all the talk and just let m b v envelope you.
What were your reactions to m b v? Let me know in the comments…