Review of mbv Album by My Bloody Valentine

Let us from the offset ignore inactivity, as My Bloody Valentine's follow-up to "Loveless" holds no regard for it. It begins two decades on as if nothing but the turn of a page has occurred since the release of their landmark second full-length, and sees them depart from familiar grounds into brand new territories (for themselves). 

My Bloody Valentine mbv Album

'she found now' submerges Spector's Wall Of Sound at the same depths as 'Sometimes' on its' predecessor, but as it progresses "mbv" finds the Irish quartet moving further and further away from the trademark sound of their peak, like the greatest hits of a catalogue that never made it past the confines of a studio.

Nothing sums up "mbv" better than its' artwork; it is an incomprehensible clusterfu*k of indecipherable shades and shapes when viewed at a distance, or indeed presented on a low copy, but under close study it reveals itself in multi-dimensional glory. Still it is a work of such scope that it is nigh on impossible to summarise efficiently and effectively, a point to note in these days of instant music criticism

To digest 'mbv' properly it is helpful to split it into three parts. The first shares the most common ground with Loveless, particularly 'who sees you', with its climbing melodies that hark back to 'Come In Alone', wrapped in the same vice grip of distortion, reverb, compression and god knows what else.

The second third is where the mould is broken. Whilst there is a recognisable feel that only Kevin Shields knows how to create despite the best intentions of hundreds the lazy synth-led 'is this and yes' has only the barest roots in their "Tremolo EP", which long looked like a farewell. 

It is also here where we begin to see My Bloody Valentine, presumingly unwittingly, sharing more ground with their imitators. The spacious, lulling 'if i am' brings to mind Japanese shoegazers Hartfield, and the playful 'new you' with its shimmering electronics and prominent, pounding bassline is reminiscent of A Sunny Day In Glasgow.

The final third screws up the formula entirely. 'in another way' is the albums, and perhaps the years highlight, with a verse not too dissimilar to Blone Redhead's anthemic '23' being pulverised by Seefeel or Autechre in a forgiving mood that bleeds into a chorus that transplants the snakecharming melody of Godspeed You! Black Emperor's 'Gamelan' into an end of the world rave. 

The closing couplet of "mbv" is the album's most punishing point, clearly influenced by Kevin's time in Primal Scream and his professed love of Jungle and Drum & Bass. Whilst not containing the same absolute velocity as the noisier side of the shoegaze spectrum (think APTBS, The Lost Rivers) it still raises the pulse more than any compatriot, though that is certainly not a knock on other amplifier worshippers.

Inevitably with such a diverse palette the cohesion of "Loveless" is forsaken, but "mbv" is all the better for it. It is not necessarily a stronger record than "Loveless", but it is certainly better than what "Loveless Mk II" would have been.

Jordan Dowling

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