m b v – My Bloody Valentine
m b v
My Bloody Valentine
The twenty-two year-long vacuum without a My Bloody Valentine record has finally come to end, as Kevin Shields’ new record m b v has finally come out (earlier this month, on February 2). The band that popularized and mastered the genre of shoegaze, if not also created it, couldn’t have picked a more appropriate time to release this album; the droning, wall-of-noise guitar sound has been making a comeback recently. Yo La Tengo’s last release had its shoegazing influences front-and-center, fellow hiatus-stoppers Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! had half of the songs drone-filled, and plenty of “nu-gaze” bands have been popping up (Yuck, Wild Nothing, and M83). So, Shields has capitalized on this resurgence of his beloved genre, and with perfect timing, m b v has not given this generation a reason to be crestfallen.
In actual fact, this album feels like a logical progression for My Bloody Valentine. Without leaving behind their sound from the classic Loveless, m b v also doesn’t rehash old material. This isn’t Shields reinventing his music — instead, he seeks to ameliorate his band, increasing upon the sound that we’ve all grown to love. It’s a difficult thing to achieve, one that many albums try and fail at, especially albums that were also over ten years in the making, after certain bands went on hiatus…
Now, m b v is so great because it stands in almost direct opposition to all of the radio-friendly pop songs on any Top 40 station. Whereas the two-minute pop ditties found on the Billboard charts have changes every twenty seconds to keep thirteen-year-old girls interested, the songs on My Bloody Valentine’s new album are more like taking a scenic countryside ride in a train. Take, for instance, album opener “She Found Now” — the overlayed, reverbed guitars create a beautiful, distorted atmosphere for the five minutes, fully drawing the listener in as swirling guitar lines are added in. The vocals are whispered intimates, more focused on the feeling of the entire song rather than being the main, standout melody. After the song has ended, you’ll realize not much has changed in the landscape, and yet, the perspective has still shifted — hence, the locomotive simile.
The whole album is created by little moments extended into full songs, and there lies the beauty of m b v. “Who Sees You” is a psychedelic romp with nonstop pitch-fluctuations, a dizzying array of noise masking the starting point of the track. The next track, “Is This and Yes” even forgoes My Bloody Valentine’s tried-and-true approach of guitars and brings in layered keyboard lines, softly experimenting with the band’s sound but never overstepping. Towards the end of the record, “Nothing Is” batters us with iron-like drums, an unsettling experience that still fits in perfectly with the ambulatory quality of the album.
2013 seems like it’s going to be rife with long-awaited resurgences in music. David Bowie’s releasing new music, Nick Cave just released Push the Sky Away, Black Sabbath has an album in the works, and hell, even Justin Timberlake is getting in on the action. However, it is going to be difficult to follow this effort from Shields: My Bloody Valentine’s m b v not only lives up to the expectations surrounding it, but surpasses them, expanding the band’s comfort zone even wider. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait another twenty-two years for the next release.