My Bloody Valentine: M B V
Similar Artists: Slowdive, Ride, Cocteau Twins
Genre: Shoegaze, Dream Pop
Ah, I remember when the last My Bloody Valentine album came out; those were the good ol’ days. I might have only been an infant of 1 year and a few months at the time, but the roaring guitars completely stood out from the other albums my mom used as lullaby music. Ever since then, I, along with countless other fans have been eagerly awaiting the band’s follow up. Decade after decade passed and little to no news arose; although we still waited, most of us knew the sad truth that there simply wasn’t going to be any more material from the band. Well, it turns out that truth doesn’t really exist, as the new MBV album has just been released. As exciting as it is to know that dreams do come true, even after listening on heavy repeat for the last few days, it feels awfully strange to be writing this review. Despite the recent appearance of every other band from the 90’s reuniting to either put out a new record or roll around the country in a cash grabbing tour, this event seems bewildering, and similar to the music in question, dream like. The best comparison to this event would be the 44 year wait for The Beach Boy’s Smile sessions release, but even that was never actually completed. Now it would seem the only thing I have left to wish for is a new Neutral Milk Hotel record.
So the big question everyone seems to want to know the answer to is, “How does M B V compare to its highly lauded predecessor?” Let me talk about that. That album was known for its unexplainable production, restrictive use of non-guitar instruments, breathy vocals (often inaudible) and an ocean’s length of challenging tremoloed guitar waves. Well, this album has all of those things, and as it turns out, it has a whole lot more as well; so the question in hand should actually be “has Loveless been surpassed?”
This new album title, “M B V”, splits the band’s name into 3 letters with a space in between each. This seems to be in relation to the three distinct sections of the album, (of 3 songs each). The end of each section even has a few seconds of rest to symbolize the changing direction. Because of this, the album can even be taken as a grouping of EP’s the band has deemed up to its standards. Those standards in question are exceedingly high ones, but this release is proof that these individuals are the same group of perfectionists they were in the early 90’s.
The first of these sections is best described as a continuation of the Loveless style. The sounds, textures and songwriting are arguably more accomplished than they were before. We enter with “She Found Now”, a particularly majestic song that keeps things slow moving, yet tense due to the jagged, storm-brewing undercurrents. “Only Tomorrow”, brings on the band’s sorely missed crackling guitar fuzz. Major chords are introduced ¾ through to remind us of how the band excels at combining the accessible with the non-accessible.
The second section opens with “Is This and Yes”, which is an electronic ambient piece led by bright organ drones, the light thumping of a drum, and Bilinda Butcher’s tenderly sung vocals (which are featured prominently through these 3 tracks). It is a curious track that brings to mind select pieces from Angelo Badalamenti’s “Twin Peaks” soundtrack. “If I Am” and “New You” are the most accessible moments on the record, the latter of which throw us into a guitar bass shuffle and ends with beautiful vocal harmonizing from Bilinda.
The last section is the loudest, fastest and least comparable to anything else in the group’s discography (or anyone’s discography for that matter). “In Another Way” is an achievement in its use of superbly warped guitar licks, and a keyboard that sees the band at their most ethereal. “Nothing is” is three and a half minutes of punishingly repeating guitar and drums, but it proves so hypnotic that the word “repetitive” never comes to mind. Final song “Wonder 2” is another out there track that I won’t embarrass myself by trying to put into words….
Of course… none of my words have any relation to what this music sounds like. The band’s indescribability is how they have managed to never falter in turning up repeatedly in day to day conversation. The time off has proved this laughably unprolific band to be a true one-of-a-kind act. MBV’s followers have had 21 years to make an album that sounds like Loveless and nothing has come close. So here we are, listening to this unexpected new release, and all I can think is “I don’t need Loveless anymore.”
1.) She Found Now*
2.) Only Tomorrow*
3.) Who Sees You
4.) Is This and Yes
5.) If I am
6.) New You*
7.) In Another Way*
8.) Nothing is
9.) Wonder 2*
* – Album Highlight