My Bloody Valentine - mbv - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

My Bloody Valentine - mbv

by Miz DeShannon Rating:8 Release Date:2013-02-03

Doing a full track-by-track analysis of mbv would only be copy-cat, and repetitive. Of me, not the album, but in a way it has to be done because mbv is so long-awaited. On first listen, the new My Bloody Valentine present (couldn't say 'offering', it's more something to be thankful for after all) does sound repetitive, and after recently slating another shoegaze band for being so, citing repetition here could be a bit hypocritical. But only a bit, because what needs to be understood is that mbv is musical repetition done properly, with so many beautiful textures and layers and all sorts of weird sounds and effects, that consistent drum beats and softly thudding basslines just fade to near nothingness under every other strange and psychedelic sound.

Skipping through the dreamy and easy opening track, 'She Found Now', to jumping full and heavy on the fuzz pedal in 'Only Tomorrow' - which could be called upbeat for MBV with some high-hat and a (slightly more) pacey drum-beat - this is how mbv goes: Up, down, round and round, swirling and diving slowly through signature pitch-bending guitars ('Who Sees You' - reminding me of when my old belt-drive record player had broken and I played a Scott Walker LP), and pious chants ('Is This and Yes' - Butcher's illegible ethereal vocal breaking through a haunting organ with the heartbeat of a drum floating in the background). The sensuous, stripped back 'If I Am' has a sound which has been done and done by imitators in the last few years, none with the classical beauty and depth which the journey mbv takes has; a laid-back slow-paced journey through so many influences and genres. Take 'New You' for example: A nice funk bassline, but fuzzed-out and slowed down. Play your LP on 45rpm and you'll see what I mean.

While on the subject of influences, I'm sure there are bagpipes on 'In Another Way'. Again, it quite a pace to it, but there's some kind of squeal... You never can be certain what instrument or sample you're hearing from MBV, there's so much distortion and reverb going on, proven by the increasing intensity on instrumental 'Nothing Is', which is actually quite something - a feedback frenzy. At nearly four minutes it's just heavy. Heavy.

'Wonder 2' follows with an intro sample which sounds like nothing so much as a steam train (or is it a jet engine?), an incessant snare rhythm that'd be a feat to pull off live, harmonious vocals pushing through hooting and humming and making a noise-rock sensation to end on. And mbv ends sharply. Suddenly the mind-bending noise-fest had gone, the roller-coaster ride of noise has finished.

Quite a thing, after it had gently and steadily sneaked its way through with its loud-but-quiet, soft-but-grungy sounds, and the swirling and dreamy, diving vocal harmonies of Shields and Butcher. But this consistent inconsistency typifies Shields' way of working: Sometimes a flurry of press features, releases; then a dip and departure from the label; then recording ideas, and the announcement of completed mastering at Christmas. It all took nearly 20 years, but it's that slow, thoughtful, mindful pace again...

There are signs here and there in mbv of Shields' apparent flutterings in the genre of jungle, and hints of all sorts of musical ventures scattered through this album, but overlaid with absorbing sounds, simple melodies, softly plodding basslines and woozy guitar riffs. It's sound they've been perfecting for 30 years. There's nothing unusual in mbv, nothing amazingly new, other than the refinement; something some people rush in a new album, in the hastiness to release in sufficient/expected time.

As one comment I saw claimed, it really is "wonderful that people like Bowie, Kevin Shields and Kate Bush can just put out a little message on their website saying, 'Here you go, I've finished'. Unlike [new acts] who need to take a whole load of journos on a jet to distract them at just how crap their albums actually are...". Maybe MBV have just been sat waiting to blow all the imitators of recent years out of the water. This is how shoegaze should be done people.

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