My Bloody Valentine – Loveless (1991) Review

So that shoegaze band (you know, THAT shoegaze band) is apparently going to release their follow-up to the classic 1991 album, Loveless. 20 years is a pretty quick turnaround time, so I hope the album doesn’t feel rushed, as I’m sure nobody would have minded another decade in the mixing room. With all of the excitement of a BRAND SPANKIN’ NEW My Bloody Valentine album, I thought, what the hell, let’s review the album that is responsible for all of this damn excitement. You may be wondering if this album really warrants all that hype, well, read on, dear reader, read on.

To truly grasp what MBV accomplished on this album, you need to get a feel for what lead up to it. Their debut album, Isn’t Anything, was anything but a debut, as the band had released several EP’s of fantastic material, especially with You Made Me Realize. Each release saw the band fine-tuning their sound and becoming ground-breakers rather than the trend followers many labeled them as in the beginning. Their music leading up to this was very abrasive, noisy, and a bit of a head-scratcher at first. However, what makes the music so great is that beneath all of the noise and walls of sound are simple and emotional songs that are often catchy and really well-written.

What is amazing about Loveless is the fact that it is catchier and more upbeat than the music that came before it. The dark vibe present on some songs on Isn’t Anything and You Made Me Realize is almost completely ditched for music that is a bit more upbeat, though still very noisy and chaotic. What truly sets this album over the top is the little flourishes each song has that get stuck in your head for days on end. The riff in opener “Only Shallow” is simply MASSIVE and is complimented by equally rich instrumentation. “I Only Said” has this extremely catchy synth that soars over very distorted and reverbed guitar riffs. Just about every song here has something that immediately jumps out at you, but on repeated listens reveals things that you love even more.

The chaos of the album is pretty consistent through the entire run-time, though there are few respites that are absolutely gorgeous and are among the highlights of the album. The song “Touched” is an instrumental that is just under a minute long, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t some of the most hauntingly beautiful music I’ve heard. The album closer, “Soon”, sheds much of the reverb and distortion for a very clean and catchy rock song that has almost a Stone Roses-y bounce to it. These moments aren’t necessarily huge stylistic shifts, but they are much welcomed changes of pace that ultimately enhance the flow of the album.

While Loveless is definitely a phenomenal album, I do have a couple nitpicks. Some songs can go on a bit too long, and sometimes a bit too much distortion and reverb is used. Those methods work on most songs, but on a couple of the slower songs it would be nice to maybe go a bit softer on those effects. Tracks like “To Here Knows When” would be a perfect example of this. While not a bad song, I feel anything it is trying to accomplish is completely drowned out in the production, and it also doesn’t help that the track is too repetitive and long. However, these are minor nitpicks, and don’t do much to tarnish the greatness of this record.

Loveless is the type of album you don’t come across often. When you hear it, you immediately know you’re listening to something very unique and ambitious, and even if you don’t get it right away you are compelled to return to it and discover all of its secrets. Shoegaze isn’t exactly a genre you hear a whole lot of, but even if you are mildly interested in trying it out then there is no better place to start than this album. It’s dense, it’s chaotic, but most importantly it is absolutely mesmerizing at the core of it all. It’s basically THE shoegaze album to hear, and has left enormous shoes for the band’s 2 decades-in-the-making follow up to fill.

Release Date: November 4, 1991

Genres: Shoegaze, Noise Rock, Alternative Rock



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