Friday, 15 March 2013

Album review: MY BLOODY VALENTINE - m b v

Highlights: She Found Now, Only Tomorrow, Who Sees You, In Another Way

This was hilariously unexpected, of course, but the album had to be released at some point. The fact that it took Kevin Shields more than 20 years to finally come out and do it cannot just be explained by neurotic perfectionism. Hell no. The brilliant Loveless was released three years after the equally brilliant Isn’t Anything. And like I’ve noted numerous times before, only Kate Bush can get away with that sort of thing.

In terms of sound – no surprises. Which is just as well. Shields is not building on the remarkable sound of that gorgeous shoegaze delirium, not trying to expand it in any way. What he is doing on m b v is just reveling, wallowing in those dense textures he dreamt up way back when. And while I’m at it, it was certainly to be expected that a new album from My Bloody Valentine would generate lots of hysterical reactions, from fans as well as from those who tried to get into or at the very least understand the overblown/underground hype (and – obviously – this is exactly what m b v has generated). Apparently many people were frustrated that Shields is pretty much stuck in the place where he was last seen. It is almost as though these people wanted My Bloody Valentine to go disco or something.

Having said that, the final three songs do show some sonic development. And while the instrumental “Nothing Is” is nothing much, “Wonder 2” is interesting – Shields trying to squeeze in as much funk as possible without compromising his trusty shtick. You can’t really discuss m b v in terms of highlights, but that’s because the record is very even and homogenous. I’ve singled out the first three songs simply because their Loveless vibe seems so comforting. Layers of colourful noise interwoven with dreamy, unassuming melodies. Also, I quite like the idea to break the whole thing up with three quiet, ballad-like dreamscapes that occupy the middle part of the album.

Regardless of what you might think of the band’s defining classic, its mammoth cult status has made it impossible for Shields to record an adequately perceived follow-up. However, you really do get what you want: you get Loveless; you get a taste of what could have come next; you get My Bloody Valentine of 2013. Yes, it’s a great band stuck in their sound, but I couldn’t care less if it is simply because Kevin Shields is unable to do anything else with it. The sound good. "C-" for the cover, though.


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