Prior to my first listen of m b v, I spoke to a few friends who had seemed underwhelmed at best. It’s no Loveless, they’d said. Though to compare m b v to Loveless is to miss the point, for a worst-case scenario would have been to wait 22 years for an album that sounded like a band trying to sound like My Bloody Valentine. And I’m glad to say this is not the case.
While cynics will say everything has been done before and that guitar music is dead, I hope m b v will be used to support the counterargument. For to this day nobody – even 22 years on from the release of their most revered – plays guitar, comes out with chords, or employs their progressions quite like Kevin Shields.
And although guitar-based, this record has moments that have more in common with artists like Aphex Twin, Animal Collective or Radiohead à la The King Of Limbs than they do the band’s previous. But whereas the albums conceived of these artists seem concertedly difficult and purposefully challenging, m b v is quite humble and relaxed in its post-amphetamine high. The sounds ebb, flow and envelope the listener; the richness and fullness of Shields’ chords once more reach beyond your brain and delve into the deeper recesses of your heart and soul.
There’s a carefree beauty to this album. And after the well-documented troubles in making Loveless, it seems that the band are finally at peace with themselves. They didn’t have to release this record; they chose to, and chose to do so on their own terms. Never do they sound as though they’re trying too hard, and enough time has now passed that they have nothing left to prove. The structures are relaxed as they lock into the repetitive grooves – everything feels lighter, with the distortion more translucent. Whereas Loveless feels grounded and heavy, this is a record for the astral planes.
And I think that is maybe the main difference between My Bloody Valentine and the modern pretenders to their throne: whereas we use our ears and brains to tell us that bands like Tame Impala, Deerhunter and The Horrors sound great, m b v has got a spiritual pull, and one which is hard to put into words.
Released: February 2nd, 2013 [N/A]