Release Date: Feb 2, 2013
Record label: Self-released
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Pop, Dream Pop, Noise Pop, Shoegaze
Kevin Shields never needed to follow up Loveless. My Bloody Valentine’s critically acclaimed sophomore album thwarted critics, artists, and fans alike in November 1991, and decades later that hasn’t changed. The album — from its glossy, candy-coated artwork to the 11 tracks that span 48:36 — floats in a timeless vacuum, similar to Arthur C. Clarke’s interstellar monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
In one sense, the arrival of My Bloody Valentine's m b v was – to use a word no one had heard of the last time the quartet released an album – an omnishambles. A follow-up to 1991's Loveless was supposed to appear at the end of last year; instead, nothing happened bar an announcement that the album was complete. Nine days ago, in response to a fan's shouted query at a gig, Kevin Shields muttered noncommittally that it "might be out in two or three days".
Did My Bloody Valentine really need to make another album, 22 years after their guitar-monster classic Loveless? Kevin Shields has been working on the follow-up five years longer than James Joyce spent writing Finnegans Wake. Yet nobody was really prepared for him to go ahead and drop MBV. And what a glorious roar it is: Shields brings the cosmic guitar noise, full of late-night yearnings for excess and obliteration, while singer-guitarist Bilinda Butcher adds her breathy vocals.
When Radiohead put out The King of Limbs online with just five days' notice, Al Horner wrote an excellent blog post on how the immediacy of the release spelled impending doom for music journalism. Now, with m b v, My Bloody Valentine may have perfected the art of the unreviewable album..
Before this review goes any further, let’s reflect: It’s 2013. After years of hype, rumors, heartbreak, internet hints and untimely server crashes, you just opened a review of a new My Bloody Valentine album. And that’s unbelievable.
Review Summary: Your Bloody Valentine…at last.My Bloody Valentine’s third record arrived on our doorsteps last weekend with a serious air of the boy who cried wolf lingering all over it. And you don’t have to remember each of the false dawns scattered across the entirety of this twenty-two year fable to appreciate that reference either. Only last November did vocalist and lead guitarist Kevin Shields confidently declare to NME that, “a new My Bloody Valentine record will be coming out this year”.
"When can we hear some new material?," someone asked Kevin Shields in an AOL chat interview published by the San Francisco zine Cool Beans!. "Definitely sometime this year or I'm dead..." he answered, later driving the point home with, "I really am dead if I don't get my record out this year. Nobody's threatening me, BTW I just have to." That chat took place exactly 16 years ago tomorrow and Kevin Shields is still alive.
My Bloody Valentinem b v[Self Released; 2013]By Jason Hirschhorn; February 21, 2013Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetIt was all but chiseled in stone that Loveless was My Bloody Valentine’s final word, its epitaph. Even when Kevin Shields announced that a new album would be out in “two or three days,” a hefty portion of the group's fans refused to believe it. This was not because they didn’t desire new My Bloody Valentine music, but rather because they’d been let down so many times before.
The first time I heard My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless, the album seemed to flash and recede in an instant—a single, seamless blurred moment of majestic noise. Afterward, I was left with the abiding impression that I’d never experienced silence before. I’d never noticed how silent silence could be. The world, it seemed, was so quiet.
How do you go about releasing an album the world has waited on for nearly twenty-two years? Apparently from your website late on a Saturday night, with little warning. Then to tease us further, the website crashes from the traffic.During their initial run, My Bloody Valentine released a handful of EPs and two essential LPs, 1988's Isn't Anything and 1991's Loveless, the latter especially becoming a landmark in the height of the shoegaze era. Leader Kevin Shields, a noted perfectionist of guitar noise, nearly bankrupted Creation Records during the lengthy crafting of Loveless, foreshadowing the wait to come.
“403 – Forbidden: Access is denied.” The sight – or, more accurately, site – that greeted excitable My Bloody Valentine fans at just after midnight last Saturday, as they battled to download something they thought would never arrive. At the time it was cruel, frustrating. Torturous even. In hindsight, it was a wonderful piece of irony: after all, it was what My Bloody Valentine fans had to put up with since Loveless was released some 22 years ago.
It would be stupid to assume, just because it took two decades to see the light of day, that m b v will somehow shake the world of popular music in the same way Loveless did. Loveless was the outcome of the years My Bloody Valentine spent distilling a perfect sound, so besides topping it (and they couldn't), the only way the band could live up to the colossal expectations Loveless set for them would have been to move on from that sound. But did we really want that? Instead, My Bloody Valentine do only and exactly what they should have done: record an album that matches the grace, beauty, and sensual timbre of their landmark record.
Loveless is my favorite album. It has been for 13 years. I was 11 when it was released, but at the time I wasn’t aware of its existence. My friends and I were too busy skateboarding, playing Sonic the Hedgehog, and trading taped cassette copies of Nevermind in 1991. I first read about Loveless a ….
Even though My Bloody Valentine promised late in 2012 that they would release new music in the near future, when m b v arrived in the middle of a February weekend in 2013, it was hard to believe it actually existed -- and not just because demand for the album kept crashing the band's website. For years, a follow-up to their 1991 masterpiece Loveless seemed impossible, and perhaps even unnecessary. What could live up to Kevin Shields' notorious perfectionism, never mind the expectations of rabid fans (some of whom weren't even alive when Loveless was released)? With a title that evoked years of scrawling initials on mixtapes and playlists, m b v answered those worries with a set of songs that felt immediately familiar.
As RSI took root in our joints and we clicked Refresh on the 403 Error page for the 3,257th time, we felt certain that Kevin Shields had undergone a last-minute change of heart and decided to hold fire on the new My Bloody Valentine album after all. Perhaps his notoriously critical ear had noticed a vocal that sounded too earthbound and corporeal, or a guitar that didn’t sound enough like light being bent around a pyramid. Maybe he realised that, if he just gave himself another two or three years, he could probably come up with a better title than ‘m b v’.As it turned out, we had to wait just a teensy bit longer than expected.
Beethoven, we know, had tinnitus. "My ears whistle and buzz all day and night. I can say I am leading a wretched life," he wrote. Ironically, sound therapies based on Beethoven and Mozart's music are now used to alleviate the condition, treating like with like. My Bloody Valentine – the wayward ….
It's hard not to be apprehensive about clicking "play" on My Bloody Valentine's first album in 22 years. Comebacks rarely work out, and I can't think of any act that could live up to the absurd expectations that have built up since the dream-pop icons' masterpiece, Loveless, came out in 1991. If the new album sounded too similar, we'd feel like they hadn't grown, though no one wants a drastic reinvention either.
Twenty-two years can be a long time. Imagine all the things that pass in that timeframe, all the milestones and transitions that mark a person’s life: your first day of school, your first kiss, graduating from high school, marriage. And through all this, a contemporary soundtrack usually accompanies it. We may venerate the classics as essential, but ultimately, these are the ones that we stock in a shelf.
The notion of a music career is a weird thing. Not because musicians make money, but because it implies some sort of steady work. We expect bands to crank out an album every two years or so and if they take longer or go away for a while, well then anticipation for what comes next becomes a heavy burden. We conflate our want for a new record with the artist’s need (or want) to make one since, because this is a career, it’s something they need to build with a consistent output of work.
In 50, 60 years’ time, there will almost certainly be nobody left alive on this planet who gives a blind fuck that there was a 22-year-gap between My Bloody Valentine’s second album Loveless and their third album, m b v. Indeed, there are probably plenty of people out there who have purely listened to m b v off the back of the storm of internet slathering surrounding its ‘surprise’ release, and are consequently yet to even hear Loveless. And as for you: the odds are very strong that, like me, your first encounter with Loveless was years after its 1991 release, and that your wait has, at the very least, been less than two decades.
By God, it actually happened. They actually did it. For two decades Kevin Shields’ eternally on-the-horizon projections for a prospective third My Bloody Valentine LP grew to be increasingly fanciful. It got to a point where a website titled isthenewmybloodyvalentinealbumoutyet.com sprang up ….
In a recent interview Kevin Shields said that during the recording sessions for Loveless there was a three day period when he banished everybody else from the studio. “Everybody thought that I was working,” he said. But in fact he was slowly chipping the paint off of Bilinda Butcher's pickguard with a razor blade. Apparently, he didn't have any ideas so he simply did nothing.
Two-decades 'overdue' it might be, but this is an astounding return. Ian Wade 2013 With their second album, 1991’s Loveless, a beautiful but fading memory, the suggestion that My Bloody Valentine would release another LP has long been an ongoing joke. So when frontman Kevin Shields, on stage in London in late January 2013, hinted that this mythical third set may be released within “two or three days”, the reaction was to laugh.
“Hoping for a real new My Bloody Valentine record is a little like hoping for a new J.D. Salinger story: There may be one some day, but don’t hold your breath.” Douglas Wolk wrote those words in the pages—yes, actual pages—of the CMJ New Music Monthly back in June 1998. He was reviewing Kevin Shields’s remix of Primal Scream’s “If They Move, Kill ‘Em,” one of the scant pieces of MBV ephemera that emerged during the band’s long, mysterious hibernation period.
My Bloody Valentine have rarely done anything quietly. But the sudden, shock arrival of their first new album in more than twenty one years on Saturday night seemed to come out of the silence of the ether, arriving on a colossal wave of rampant rumours mixed with sky-high expectations. Kevin Shields’ recent promises that a new record was indeed on its way were certainly tempered with the actuality that he’s kept the music world waiting for over two decades for the long-awaited follow up to Loveless, and fans rightfully wondered if the new album would always exist better in his mind (and ours) than as a tangible sonic reality.
Let’s be honest. Any record with a backstory akin to that of ‘m b v’ could take on a legendary status, without a note of the music really mattering.Twenty or so years in the making. False starts, multiple promises over many years that it was almost finished. Alan McGee, whose label Creation had been near bankrupted by the band’s 1991 album, ‘Loveless’, swearing blind that he would never work with Kevin Shields again.
MY BLOODY VALENTINE “m b v” (mybloodyvalentine.org) Early on Saturday evening My Bloody Valentine released “m b v,” its first record in 22 years, on its Web site, without much warning. Well, there was some: the English-Irish band’s principal songwriter and woolgatherer, Kevin Shields, had been promising a new album — but he’d been making those promises for almost half his life. Unsurprisingly, “m b v” sounds like a sequel to “Loveless,” its much-loved antecedent and highest achievement of the post-punk subgenre often called shoegaze.
Expectations are loaded weapons, often building up unstably only to backfire. Kevin Shields thrives on that tension and remains a master of its subversion, an exercise requiring such precision that everything outside it seemingly dissolves into chaos. Thus the arrival of m b v, My Bloody Valentine's third LP and 22-year follow-up to 1991 pinnacle Loveless, was expectedly unexpected – its imminent release teased for years before suddenly appearing for download on the band's website at the beginning of the month.