• Sat, Apr 20, 2024

My Bloody Valentine - m b v


album Reviews Feb 04, 03:47pm

A review of m b v by My Bloody Valentine.


A couple of days ago, I noticed the internet convulsing collectively over the release of a new album by My Chemical Romance or Bullet for My Valentine or something. ‘That couldn’t be right,’ I thought of Tweeting, before better sense prevailed and I decided to scope the scene a bit. Obviously, I soon discovered the band in question to be My Bloody Valentine, who had shoegazed themselves into oblivion after the release of Loveless in 1991 thanks to leader Kevin Shields’s Barrett-esque grapples with depression and Utopian perfectionism and forays into reclusiveness. Fans of the pioneering band were left waiting in vain for a follow up to Loveless, often called one of the defining records of the 90s. And the weirdo duly obliged, with characteristic tardiness, giving fans what they’ve been lusting for forever, and giving me the chance to belatedly erase this glaring blind spot from my musical consciousness; there’d been talk of a new record being completed, but the announcement of the release was abrupt and unexpected, and the album, titled m b v, was released on the band’s website on Feb 2/3. Quite predictably, the server crashed almost immediately.

As for the music, MBV are an alternative band that predated (and informed) the ridiculously labeled shoegaze movement. The cynosure of their sound, which all came together on Loveless, was the utterly distorted experimental guitar pop that they wrote, with alternating deliveries – languorous and unhurried (courtesy Shields) and Bilinda Butcher’s ethereal and incoherent musings. m b v sounds at its best a logical extension of that sound – the violent and hazy effects-ridden guitar-experimentation with an earnest emphasis on melody; the indefinite and nebulous structural quality; the ability to extract meaningful ‘pop’ and accessibility out of music that could’ve just as easily gone the Muzak way; it’s all there, right from its otherworldly eye-popping opener ‘she found now’. There’s a mild shakeup or two in there too, as ‘new you’ and ‘in another way’ pick up the pace and even add an element that’s…upbeat. Shields’s irreverent and radical approach to the guitar stands out; it acts not just as an instrument playing memorable floating parts to establish the melodic core of the songs, but as a behemoth that dominates the mix from start to finish, and serves the dual function of being an orchestrator of a subtle chaos – it becomes an emotional crutch that engulfs m b v even at its weakest. The album gets extremely heavy, and by heavy, I don’t mean angry brutal skullcrushing riffage and mind altering blast-beat mayhem, but more in its power to envelop the listener with a carefully orchestrated sonic assault through understated resolve, wrapping itself around the listener – ‘nothing is’, with the infinite repetition of its angry and hypnotic twirl, being one such example, as also ‘wonder 2’, which employs theatrical motifs smearing the skyline with an eerie coat of noise, contrasting with the wraithlike vocal hisses and whispers by Butcher. It’s all very unsettling.

At its worst, though, m b v is basically 15 years too late. It employs techniques and tricks that, while revolutionary a couple of decades ago, are now par for the course, albeit still sort of cool – it’s the writing that sets it apart today. And while I have no right to comment on the album’s absurd anticipatory hype (since for once I’m forgoing the age-old reviewer trick of ‘faking it till you make it’ when it comes to unfamiliar bands), there’s the not slight chance that m b v will not really be the defining sound of our times. But that’s OK; there’s something very twisted lurking in the album, and the preliminary listens don’t flesh out that very alluring element fully. Ultimately, this is a record that deserves time spent with it to understand the deeply sensitive pathos that resides inside, as also the intricacies that unravel over multiple listens.

m b v is available for streaming in full on YouTube. Check out opener 'she found now'

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