Album of the Week: My Bloody Valentine’s First Album in Over 20 Years Is An Immediate Classic
For a band that only released two albums, Ireland’s My Bloody Valentine made a huge impact on alternative and indie rock, so much so, that the band has been forever immortalized as trailblazers, and often cited by other musicians as a major musical influence. Now, after two decades of near silence from the band, MBV are back in a big way.
They were pioneers of the shoegaze movement in the late 1980s through the early-to-mid 1990s, and their influence on alternative and indie rock since then has only grown. Although it failed commercially, the band’s 1991 sophomore album, Loveless, is considered by critics and fans alike to be a classic album and a milestone achievement of rock history. (Plus, they have one of the most memorable, and provocative, band names ever). And yet the captivating, thrilling and droning soundscapes of Loveless, which popularized the shoegaze genre worldwide, still sounds as epic and fresh as it did two decades ago. But who was to know that Loveless would have a true contender for shoegaze legacy, and that the competition would be from the same band, 22 years later?
Earlier this month, MBV fans were treated to a big surprise when the band suddenly announced via their Facebook page that the new self-released, and somewhat self-titled album, MBV, was released via the band’s official website. Within an hour of the news, there was so much web traffic going to the site all at the same time that it crashed the site completely. And for a good week or more, it was touch and go as far as being able to make it all the way through a successful purchase of the album – because it was the only place to get a copy.
The band did, however, ease the pain at least for many fans by also putting up a full stream of the album via their official My Bloody Valentine YouTube channel. While the album is not yet (or perhaps never will be, since it’s self-released) on Spotify, you can still listen to Loveless and other singles and EPs via the My Bloody Valentine Spotify playlists.
On song after song, the band have reignited the flame they lit all those years ago; in fact, MBV may be even better than Loveless – the more we listen to it, the more we’re convinced. Songs like “In Another Way,” the rumbling guitar rock instrumental of “Nothing Is,” the lo-fi guitar noise and soaring notes of “Who Sees You,” the dreamy, fuzzy psych rock of “She Found Now,” the long and winding progression of distorted guitars and haunting vocals on “Only Tomorrow.”
“Only Tomorrow” – My Bloody Valentine from MBV
On the first couple of spins of MBV, we were simply blown away. Afterall, with nearly 22 years of lost time since the release of Loveless, we were expecting a mediocre album with a couple good songs, or a totally flop, since many bands that come back with a new album after that many years (and even less), don’t usually fair that well. But MBV blew all expectations out of the water, made pretentious fools out of us for assuming prematurely that it would be less than the astonishing work of noise rock that it is, and reaffirmed the band’s legendary status as the pioneers of shoegaze, and now, as middle-aged folks, as once again the indisputable gods of shoegaze rock. Roll out that bloody valentine colored red carpet.
Immediately, fans (those who were able to get through and purchase it) started posting about how fantastic the album sounded. In the ensuing days, the praised spread to music critics – who did not have an advanced copy (which is so DIY and cool) – as well, who almost overwhelmingly have applauded the band’s third, and comeback (way back), album as everything from a DIY masterpiece to a triumphant return to the spotlight to a renewal of the power of the electric guitar. Life’s little and welcoming surprises are the best surprises of all. MBV is easily in the running for best DIY album of 2013 even though the year is only 7 weeks old, and hopefully will be in the running for one of the best albums of the year, DIY or not.
“In Another Way” – My Bloody Valentine from MBV
One fan of MBV, known only as TagoMagoTexas wrote this: “The music is dynamic, some songs are forceful and ferocious, others are smooth, gentle, romantic – they all intertwine, they build on one another. It’s a welcome resurgence of the beauty of the electric guitar.” Indie’d.
Fact Magazine wrote: “It’s as if they’ve recaptured innocence. It’s the only way to describe what you feel had to have happened in order for the band to preserve the very essence of what was the music of their youth, in such a way that goes beyond replication.”
Overwhelming, the reception from all sides has been big thumbs way up. CMJ wrote of m b v: “You’ll be hard pressed to find another album that’s this much fun to crawl inside,” Paste Magazine added: “My Bloody Valentine successfully followed up a decades-old classic with m b v, an album that stands as confidently, beautifully and masterfully composed as its predecessor.
One exception to just about every other review by fans, blogs and the mainstream music press, was PopMatters‘ (which isn’t exactly known for having great taste in music) lukewarm review.
In a rather snarky and misguided review, the editors at PopMatters, concluded:”It’s a good album, but not a great one, and though the long tail of history will eventually render such a long production time moot, it’s certainly not a record justifying the ludicrous wait.” Yeah, so the part about the length of time it took for this record to come out is valid, but only for a minute. So, the short tail of history has already rendered that criticism moot and inconsequential.
“Wonder 2″ – My Bloody Valentine from MBV
Lighten up guys; the band members were obviously doing other things during the past 20 years – like raising families and living their lives. We certainly don’t think a band has an obligation to put out another album (especially as a follow-up to a classic album) until they’re ready to do so, and the folks at PM certainly are being petty by giving it only a 6 out of 10. And for diehard MBV fans, and the new fans they’ve now brought on board with this release, the “ludicrous (wrong usage of the word, by the way) wait” was well worth it.
If one were to make a rock music time capsule and bury it to be opened one hundred years from now, it would have to contain Loveless or mbv, or both, along with Sgt. Pepper, Dark Side of the Moon, The Kinks Kronikles, Astral Weeks (Van Morrison), Land of Gypsies (Hendrix), Led Zeppelin I or II, Steely Dan’s Greatest Hits, Blonde On Blonde (Bob Dylan), and Nevermind (Nirvana), to name just a few.
As the Los Angeles Times wrote: “It’s everything its fans have been pining for the past two decades.” That’s all that matters. Nothing is achieved by holding the band up to some ridiculous, petty standard. All we would add to what the Times wrote is, MBV is ‘everything and more.’