Tag Archives: Kevin Shields

My Bloody Valentine – mbv (2013) Review

Here it is, the moment everyone has been waiting over two decades for! Entire musical genres, bands and styles have come and gone during the absence of My Bloody Valentine (jeez), and now they come back in a time where shoegaze is a long and distant memory. The one thing people talk about the most when it comes to MBV is the album Loveless, which is now hailed as a classic and a must-hear for shoegaze fans. How could they possibly live up to the expectations that were put on the follow-up? I don’t know, but I’ll get this out of the way right now: they did.

Leading up to this album there were a lot of rumors and speculation going on. Kevin Shields (lead guitars/vocals) said late last year that a new MBV album was almost finished. Then earlier this year news broke that the album had been finished and was all ready to go. Still, some time passed with no more updates on the album. MBV fans are patient – they have to be – so they put their hands on their laps and waited like good little fans. Then, suddenly, in a recent MBV performance Kevin Shields said the new album would be released in 2-3 days, which lead to a Saturday, February 2nd. They released it on their website that crashed thanks to the huge amount of people trying to access, which created a chaos that honestly isn’t too different from the style of music they make. However, eventually the smoke cleared and the album was finally available to be listened to.

As the album begins with the song “She Found Now” we are met with a near seamless continuation of Loveless. Heavy distortion, repetitive and fuzzy guitars and mellow vocals all come together in a sound we all come to expect from MBV. As the track progresses we get more and more layers of guitars plucking in harmony, creating a sort of orchestra of guitars that sends the track off into the sunset. This continues throughout the first few tracks, though like with any great MBV songs they have little touches that make them stand out. “Only Tomorrow” contains such an instance; with a sound that pops up regularly that resembles a UFO taking off. This all gives way to a gorgeous 2-minute plus instrumental that has a solid and catchy guitar riff.

What I find to be incredible about mbv is that it sounds like it could have came out in 1992. The mixing of the album and the elements that are present make it all feel like nothing has changed within the band, and that no time has passed at all. This album almost feels like a time machine; transporting everyone back to when shoegaze was at its peak. MBV did not miss a beat with this album; picking up right where they left off and executing just as well as they did over 20 years ago. That alone is a monumental accomplishment that many bands have tried and failed to achieve.

It isn’t until the fourth track “Is This and Yes” that we start to hear some interesting shifts in sound that really push the band to unexplored territories. The track is distortion and reverb free, the loudest thing being a somber keyboard that drifts in the background. There is a soft beeping sound that tiptoes between the foreground and the background while Bilinda Butcher sings very soothingly. When listening to it I couldn’t help but feel like I was lying on the grass and gazing up at the stars at night. It’s possibly the most relaxing and peaceful song the band has ever done, and “New You” continues the surprisingly clear and calm atmosphere a bit later into the album, as well. It’s hard to imagine MBV songs being peaceful, but that is exactly what comes through on a couple of these songs.

In Another Way” is a definite highlight of the album; starting with very strange and chaotic feedback before giving away to a MASSIVE drumbeat that gives the song such an epic feel to it. Those drums never let up while Bilinda sings hauntingly in the middle of the madness. The song continues to impress when it drops to a clear instrumental section consisting of an angelic synth line and simple guitar strumming that is altogether stunning. The next track, “Nothing Is” takes the chaos from the previous track and ups the ante into an all out assault on guitar and drums. The track itself is quite repetitive; with the same guitar strumming and drumbeats throughout the entire runtime. However, the subtle shifts in instrumentation volume and placement in the soundscape are what make it mesmerizing.

None of this, however, could possibly prepare you for the albums closer, “Wonder 2”. This is the only way I can describe it, so bear with me because I’m gonna try my best (oh that’s real reassuring). A distorted airplane that swirls around you while distant then in-your-face guitar squalls and frantic and chaotic drumming hit you like a monsoon. This track completely devours you and you feel as though you are in the eye of a hurricane, though instead of screaming and crying for your sad and pathetic life you are in complete awe. It’s one of the most mind-blowingly unique listening experiences I have ever had; something that took me completely by surprise and stuck with me long after the album had finished. This is just about the best way you could possibly end an album, and thus concludes mbv on a fantastic note.

When all is said and done, the over 20 year wait for this album feels completely worth it. The album is both familiar and new; beginning as a continuation of Loveless before transforming into something else entirely. There is so much ambition on this record and it is all fully-realized and focused into an album of ear-crushing brilliance. I know it seems like nonsense to make a comparison in terms of quality to Loveless so soon, but I have no doubt in my mind that mbv is on the same level as that album. Only time will tell if I like it more or less, but the fact that I even have that indecision is a testament to the quality of the album and a testament to what a phenomenal return we got from My Bloody Valentine.

Release Date: February 2, 2013

Genres: Shoegaze, Noise Rock, Alternative Rock

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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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