By Aaron Calvin Entertainment Editor
My Bloody Valentine’s previous album, “Loveless,” was released on November 4, 1991, a month before I was born. By the time I really sat down and gave it a listen this past year, it had long been a monolith of indie rock. The band finally released “m b v,” the follow up to “Loveless,” this past weekend. For some, it has been a 21-year wait. But what I’m concerned with is grappling with a follow-up to an album that had already been deemed a classic by the time you got to it. There are difficulties in trying to gauge the quality of a work surrounded by decades of hype by a band that suddenly emerges from the depths of the myopic past, and sometimes there’s just no separating the music itself from its cultural power.
All that being said, “m b v” is everything fans of My Bloody Valentine could hope for. It’s reminiscent of “Loveless” while still maintaining surprising moments. It isn’t exactly going against the grain. “m v b” has been well-reviewed in many disparate publications. The album never gets too comfortable with itself, each track morphing away from the other, growing large and unwieldy while still maintaining a center.
“She Found Now” starts the album out with what sounds like a sonic engine being started for the first time in decades. The album only grows from there. Guitars wax and wane against the shores of the drums. Chords fall like high-flung arrows while the ethereal fog of vocals float over it all. The songs are textural and shift subtly but powerfully. It’s easy to not realize how huge the space created in the many vaguely dissonant layers has become until a track ends and the silence is left as a reminder.
Kevin Shields, the band’s main songwriter, has been often characterized as eccentric and temperamental, but there’s no doubting the deft precision of his hand. Each track is distinct to the others, creating a strange and hypnotic collage.
Songs like “Only Tomorrow” and “New You” have clearly defined melodies guided by a pop sensibility. Both Shields and guitarist Belinda Butcher contribute vocally to create a genderless mélange of voices. There are lyrics, but they become swallowed up in the sound. This allows the listener to direct the feeling of the music.
This album isn’t necessarily for everyone. But I would suggest that if you’re bored of whatever it is you’ve been listening to and you’ve never really even heard of this band that you’ve been seeing reviewed and talked about all week, give this album a listen. If nothing else, it could be a surprising Valentine’s Day gift.