My Bloody Valentine
[Self Released; 2013]
Shortly after 9 p.m. on February 4th, the indie rock universe imploded with one simple message on My Bloody Valentine’s Facebook page: “We are preparing to go live with the new album/website this evening. We will make an announcement as soon as it’s up.” As if preparing for an eminent bomb, fans raced to their Twitter accounts, all a-tizzy about what had to be a preeminent April Fool’s joke. Since the band’s last release in 1991 “Loveless,” front man Kevin Shields has been hinting at the release of a new album for over two decades, making the next MBV album the indie music equivalent of “Chinese Democracy.” But there it was, on the front page of Facebook, a promise that a new MBV album would be running through millions of ear buds and speakers within only hours.
And when the band actually went through on their word and released the album independently on their own website? Well, the fallout from the impact was instant. With so many rabid fans bombarding their website, many spent the majority of the night facing one 404 message after another, relaying the message that the website had crashed instantaneously.
I was not one of those drooling on my keyboard that night in anticipation. Of course I wanted to hear what Shield’s and gang had been up to all these years, but I felt more apprehension than anticipation. Within the past five years we’ve seen many influential bands of the late 80s and early 90s make their reunion tours and subsequent albums, and other than Dinosaur Jr., most have been as disappointing as the second Star Wars trilogy. I knew I’d eventually have to give it a listen, but I wasn’t going to let “error” messages keep me up all night.
For some reason, I expected the new MBV album to lean more toward the pop-tinged songs that gained the band notoriety. While hummable tracks like “Only Shallow,” “When You Sleep,” and “(When You Wake) You’re Still In a Dream” are some of the band’s most popular, I’ve always been a sucker for their ventures into the grotesque with beloved drone-scapes like “No More Sorry,” “Loomer” and my all-time favorite MBV song “Lose My Breath.”
So imagine my surprise when I finally did hunker down and check on the new album, mbv, and discovered they’d gone the opposite of my expectations and released an album completely devoid of sugary hits, an album so dense and foggy that you feel like you are being held captive by the band in the unventilated bow of a schooner for 47 straight minutes. Seasickness will set in within the first nauseating 30-seconds of album opener “She Found Now,” the claustrophobic atmosphere reverberated the pulsating waves of endless tremolo guitar. This is not an album rehashing the past; Shields has led us into uncharted waters, kicking and screaming.
“She Found Now”:
Not only is mbv not a disappointing reunion album, it is questionably the band’s best album to date. It seems without the anchor of a major label holding MBV locked in melodic territories, Shields is now free to completely let loose without worrying whether his alarming auditory-humidity completely overtakes you. The irony of the situation is that it looks like the freer Shields is to explore, the more isolated and claustrophobic his sound becomes.
“Who Sees You” sounds like I feel on Nyquil:
The strangest thing about this already bizarre album is that it often resembles a repetitive, mess of warbling, reverbed guitars, unpredictable drum loops, and aloof vocals that will have you asking yourself, “This music is 20 years in the making?” Then again, as you listen closer to that same repetitive, mess of warbling, reverbed guitars, unpredictable drum loops, and aloof vocals, you’ll be wondering how someone could create something so intricate, so unique, and so mind-altering in only 20 years.