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Album Review: My Bloody Valentine - "mbv"

March 11, 2013

My Bloody Valentine
mbv
mybloodyvalentine.org

To watch the mystique grow around My Bloody Valentine and mastermind Kevin Shields during the 22 years since the band’s previous LP, Loveless, is to appreciate how ghost stories are born. Over time, the band has resurfaced sporadically—a short reunion tour in 2008 and contributions to the film Lost in Translation gave the faithful cause for ecstatic celebration. In the wider culture, though, the band and Shields became almost a rumor—a name accompanied by “legend” or “genius,” though few music fans of the download era could articulate why.

And mbv will probably do little to clarify such mysteries. Casual listeners used to contemporary ear candy will probably wonder what the hype was all about. In classic Shields/MBV fashion, that’s the beauty of it. Little in these nine tracks adheres to pop or rock convention as we know it in 2013. Like a mirror to the sprawling gestation period that gave rise to mbv, notions like hooks, tempo, mix, and melody exist in their own exploded, drifting reality. That doesn’t mean it’s willfully obscure. Far from it. The melodies, carried along by Shields and guitarist/vocalist Belinda Butcher over the lysergically elastic and bouncy guitars and loping bass and drums are things to behold. If you stripped away all the production, many of these songs would be rapturous tunes for just acoustic guitar and voice.

The superficial similarities to Loveless are bound to leave listeners primed for an earth-shattering, musically revolutionary experience underwhelmed. But it’s unlikely Shields ever cared much for being a revolutionary. MBV makes songs, and here they float outside of time, high above the surly murmurs and stirrings of the zeitgeist.

Must-hear track: “New You”