My Bloody Valentine - Loveless - Classic Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

My Bloody Valentine - Loveless

by Jack Kiser Rating:10 Release Date:1991-11-04
My Bloody Valentine - Loveless
My Bloody Valentine - Loveless

This is the one that started it all. When people were ushered into this new, bizarre fixture of reverb laden melodies, the listening public was swept off their loosely planted feet.  It is difficult to say that any band championed the shoegaze imagery quite like My Bloody Valentine. Loveless, was an effort all its own, essentially establishing the roots and foundation of the shoegaze genre. Even their lustrous imagery that appeared on the cover art was remarkably transfixing and instantly gave the listener an idea of the dreamy brashness the project possessed. Track by track each signature composition was groundbreaking and gave many future bands a template for further songwriting. The amount of elements that shoegaze entails can be daunting at times, but these Irish forefathers did it effortlessly.

The term “shoegaze” was often misunderstood and misinterpreted at times. Throughout the early stages of its growth, it was claimed to be more of a pejorative than a compliment for most musicians. The complex and seemingly difficult style of music required astute concentration to the various peddles and effect boards. This “astute concentration,” literally gazing downward at the pedalboard, was seen as a negative to critics, deeming their stage presence as unappealing and removed. What once started off as a mocking anecdote for loud, distorted noise groups, began to pick up heavy attention from all over, especially the United Kingdom.

The early 80’s shed light on various distorted noise pop groups like the Cocteau Twins, the Jesus and Mary Chain, Spaceman 3, and Loop. For many, the one that stands off the page the most is the Jesus and Mary Chain, a trio of Scottish rapscallions who were juvenile, yet infectious all their own. Pyschocandy, their debut into the music world was a collection of fuzzy, British jangle relayed over heavy distortion and lo fidelity recording. Their fascination with buzz ridden experimentation was one of the many logs thrown into the fire for this wonky genre. The distant female vocal presence from Cocteau Twin’s Elizabeth Frasier was also a triumphant characteristic in the genre. Loveless was no exception, especially since debut singer/guitarist Bilinda Butcher offered such captivating vocal work. The compatibility for this record was a match made in heaven and apparently over a laboriously lengthy recording process.

Many forget that Loveless was not MBV’s first record, which was in fact Isn’t Anything released in 1988. Often forgotten among the sonic rubble, their debut record from Creation Records showcased their innate ability to be pioneers of sound. However, this album was only the start of a much larger project Kevin Shields planned on orchestrating. The tedious nit-picking that Shields put into this second effort took nearly two years and about 19 different studios to perfect. As one can imagine, recording costs were and still aren’t cheap, so the unrelenting persistence and perfection that Shields demanded seemed to lead to endless days. In order to compensate over lost time, two EPs with tracks from the upcoming album were released. Glider and Tremolo each contained some of their best work, including tracks like “Soon” and “Swallow.” Loveless’s careful execution and production satisfaction wasn’t particularly favored by Creation execs, who needed the capital as soon as possible. The commercial reception was unfortunately not in the label’s favor, however the global cult loyalty to Loveless and MBV sent their product acclaim into the stratosphere.

Their opening track “Only Shallow,” to this day, is one of the most demanding entrances to an album. Colm Ó Cíosóig’s flashing snare introduction ushers in a chaotic whirlwind of dizzying guitars and boisterous drums. This track, especially, is where Butcher shines with her groggy, yet translucent aura. Other noteable tracks include, “Blown a Wish” with its seductive tambourine and chiming rhythm, and “To Here Knows When,” a superb track with a fanfare beginning that slowly oozes with high frequency and charming repetition. Every aspect here is beautiful and full of intricacy that requires multiple listens. I would say it requires over 20 listens if you want to recognize the sheer genius behind this masterpiece and a timeless classic.

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