Album Review: 21 years after “Loveless”, My Bloody Valentine release their new album ‘MBV’. Does it live up to its predecessor?
With little warning, My Bloody Valentine released their new album MBV (or ‘m b v‘, officially) on their website, causing a flurry of anticipatory internet chatter and server crashes. But every fan had the same concern: how could they match the sky-high expectations to follow-up their dream-pop masterpiece Loveless?
I mean, I was 20 when Loveless came out. Now I’m 41. How could anything match an album that has grown so mythic in its importance?
So I downloaded the album with feverish anticipation, but holding my reservations in check. It wasn’t needed.
MBV picks up right where Loveless left off, and that’s a good thing.
The band recorded in analogue, and the old-school production makes it sound miles above what our atrophied ears are used to in these days of MP-3 compressed detritus.
The album kicks off with She Found Now. Band mastermind Kevin Shield’s patented glide guitar coalesces perfectly with his cooing vocals. It’s instantly recognizable, yet still fresh. Think Sometimes, but less soaring and more languid, ebbing and flowing like the ocean tide. It’s a soothing guitar fuzz warm blanket.
Only Tomorrow is raggedly gorgeous, all soaring guitar squalls and speaker serrated distortion. The guitar line at 2:40 is a fat, sunbeam of a riff, one of the biggest hooks the band has made to date.
Who Sees You sounds akin to I Only Said off Loveless with similar seasick warped guitar. It encapsulates that album’s formula; wistful melodies turned inside out, dancing the delicate line between harmony and noise, while sacrificing neither.
Is This and Yes is a departure from distortion, all twinkling synths and organs, providing wonderful counterpoint. It brings to mind Shield’s electronic tinged compositions for the Lost In Translation soundtrack. You could say it sounds like M83, but given that band is hugely influenced by Valentine, it’s merely reciprocal.
The latter half of the album shows the band exploring more beat-heavy territory:
If I Am has a pulsating tone that could be sampled guitar or horns, the jazzy rhythm bringing to mind This is Hardcore by Pulp if they cranked up their amps to the breaking point.
New You is also very danceable, with Shield’s guitar tone at his most restrained.
In Another Way hearkens back to Shield’s tenure with Primal Scream; spiky and groove ridden, kicking off with killer guitar squiggles before launching into a cavernous drone coalescing with Bilinda Butcher’s soothing vocals. It climaxes with ringing guitar feedback akin to bellowing bagpipes. Super catchy.
Nothing is is a 3:34 minute patience tester akin to the bands E-note permutation concert finales, but I love it. A repeated riff going toe to toe with a slamming techno beat. I’ve never head banged to My Bloody Valentine before. This gets the blood flowing.
Wonder 2 is the last track, and is even more of a radical departure. Back in the mid 90’s the band mentioned incorporating elements of the drum’n bass genre. Given their long gestation perhaps this was recorded back then. It’s one dense sonic stew. This will likely be the most polarizing track on the album. I’m still processing all its layers.
Why did they take so long for the follow-up? It’ll always be a mystery I guess. But it sounds like they’ve never been away.
So; is it better (or equal to) than Loveless?
Given internet culture has devalued the album experience, and that music takes up smaller chunks of our lives given endless digital distractions, I don’t think any album can match Loveless, Nevermind or any other alt-rock touchstones in terms of stature.
Music was so much more important, and defined more of our identity than it does in this era.
Given the online euphoria of this release, MBV hearkens back to that time when you did care so damn much for a new album, and had lazy days to let it sink in. That warm feeling of nostalgia and excitement is the icing on the cake to a great album that came out of nowhere.
We’ll never get to shoegaze like it’s 1991, but it still sounds pretty damn great on 2013.
M B V is only available on My Bloody Valentine’s website, where you can order it in various formats. Click here to order.
And you can preview all the tracks on the band’s YouTube Channel.