Posted by: Nick Walters | May 10, 2013

My Bloody Valentine: m b v

mbv album cover

Loveless was pinky… this is bluey

Yes I know it’s been out for ages… I have a bit of a backlog of records reviews. Cobblers to a 2012 round-up, that’s ancient history now!

Anyway, the new My Bloody Valentine album. Remember that? February this year. Seems like aaages ago…

Short review: Not as good as Loveless, but if you like the band you will like this.

Long review: Kevin Shields has said that m b v is more of a ‘linear’ album than Loveless (where the tracks on either side of the record mirror each other) and this is borne out when you realise that this album’s nine tracks are split neatly into three distinct phases – 1, a coda to Loveless; 2, interlude and evolution; and 3, the next phase (if there is ever another My Bloody Valentine album). Phase 1 starts with She Found Now, a slow, lovely, flickering thing rather like Loomer or Sometimes. Instantly recognisable, it’s a reassuring opener which features a lovely intricately woozy guitar figure that cuts sharply through the fuzz. Next up are two tracks (titles? Never mind, all MBV song titles are totally meaningless) which are virtually interchangeable, and form one 12-minute droning trudge of ugly, atonal, clumpy music, like Loveless with lead boots on. Listened to at volume this stuff causes toothache. It’s really striking how these tracks entirely lack the beauty of Loveless. Brave? Suicidal? Or does Shields just not give a shit? I expect the latter. Shades of “we make music we like and if anybody else likes it then that’s a bonus.” The spirit of old skool indie lives on.

Then onto the second phase, and the last track of the Side 1 record (4th on the CD or download) is a surprising Stereolab-esque curiousity, all churchy organs and blippy bleeps. Bilinda Butcher takes on lead vocals and already the album becomes more soothing. No more toothache. The second phase continues with Track 1 of Side 2 (or Track 5), If I Am. Another Bilinda vocal and a very familiar sounding woozy melody which nicks its chord changes from at least 3 tracks from Loveless. Nice, though. Next up is New You, a surprisingly poppy track with a funky (for MBV) bassline and How Soon Is Now? guitar and a great tune. Now wave goodbye to tunes, cos here comes Phase 3 of the album, and this separates the men from the boys. After many listens, I’m not too sure which I am… It kicks off with In Another Way, which is truly insane, like 3 songs all playing at once, two of them backwards. Exhilarating, and I could take a whole album of this stuff. But then comes Nothing Is, pointless filler on an album that could do without. It sounds like 2 seconds of a tape loop off Beavis and Butthead going “Da-dah! Da-dah!” whilst trapped inside a spindryer on full spin with some broken breeze blocks. Oh I’ve made it sound better than it is! Whilst initially fun, it becomes boring, as NOTHING CHANGES throughout the whole song – it’s like water torture.

Now as a Fall fan I am of course a huge fan of repetition, but there needs to be minimal variation in the repetition to counterpoint it, to make the repetition stand out, if you see what I mean. Repetitive songs must build and evolve, if only fractionally  – just listen to this and you’ll see what I mean. Basically the same all the way through, but the variations in bass, and the guitar riff at the end, bring satisfying closure. Nothing Is, though, is nothing, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it was some sort of studio accident or the same 2 seconds deliberately repeated for 4 minutes. Ooh these pesky indie kids… of 50 years old and counting… The last track, Wonder 2, is better, and a decent pointer of where the band could take their sound next – into the stratosphere! It’s got this cool jet-plane noise all over it (see what I did there?), and there’s drums, guitar, and a tune, somewhere. But this phase seems disconnected from, well, everything, as if Shields wants to do a whole album of atonal psych-rock but just can’t bring himself to do it, so he’s sugared the pill with the call-backs to Loveless.  Am I being too down on m b v? Not really, it’s a good enough album, but like the fourth Indiana Jones film, maybe too little too late. Still, the short review I wrote at the top of this still stands: Not as good as Loveless, but if you like the band you will like this.

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