Thursday, 7 February 2013

Review: My Bloody Valentine - mbv

The early hours of the 4th were fun. I'm fairly confident that the words "403 Server is too busy" meant something to music fans the world over and there was some amazing reason for it. See, a few days ago, I was texting Patrick who hasn't received a reference on this blog for a while, but we were talking about our excitement of going to see one of the most influential bands on alternative music of the past 20 years My Bloody Valentine in Glasgow in March and I asked if he knew anything about the release of a new album yet, to which I was told back that they would probably just announce there was a new album shortly before it was released. And with that, we stopped talking and I got drunk.

Needless to say, Patrick's prediction came true late last night after the band posted on their website that they would be releasing their third album mbv, their first release as a band since 1991's Loveless, a true masterclass in guitar work, soundscaping and application of pure noise to create their own brand of pop music that you could dreamily sink yourself into and be lifted into new worlds as lead guitars joyfully scream in delight and pour all emotion into your senses. And any band that's made you feel that way ever since owes it's debts to Kevin Shields, Bilinda Butcher, Debbie Googe and Colm Ó Cíosóig.

Until the band announced their reunion in 2007, I don't think anyone was expecting to hear them record anything together again and after five years, lots of people had just given up hope, so as I write this we are still living in the aftermath of a great shock of an announcement. It's the ind of announcement that can only be fully resolved if the music is, well, as good as Loveless. And that's no easy ask.

So, they've come back with mbv an album filled with quirky lower case song titles and a false sense of civility that progresses into the madness that we love to receive from My Bloody Valentine. Seriously.

But descent into madness isn't the kind of thing that would be on the mind of any listeners. Mostly, the sheer excitement of hearing a new sound from this Northern Irish collective for the first time in 22 years is enough to make the opening of the album that of a bona fied classic. And she found now does indeed open the album in a style that does express the entire "We've been away for a long time, but now it's time for us to come back to life" style of songwriting without being obnoxious as the walls of distortion we love rise to action slowly, intertwined with Shields' rarely comprehensible vocals in a way that couldn't be mistaken for any other band. Imagine if Guns N' Roses could do the same thing. Hahahahaha!

With that, we are in for what is largely an experience of the musically stunning, that marks the gradual and gripping return to form from that band that gave us Loveless all those years ago and it's beautiful. Songs like only tomorrow and who sees you clearly aren't even written in a way that's meant exclusively create an emotional response, they're born from jam sessions. But the band's craft and entire guitar work that builds up uplifting melodies through fuzzy overtones make the songs sound less like the making of guitar jams and more like the making of dreamscapes. And sure enough by the time who sees you ends, the band has fully come to life and you are trapped in their world of wonder. And obviously, this builds up great rock songs, whether they're more in the vain of slow burning jams are are more dramatic and big headed like if i am and the demented guitar squeals that build up in another way that literally sounds like Kevin's lead guitars screaming out as they burn.

After that, there's no real knowing of what's to come after that. The band's use of electronics in previous work have always been more subtle, so allowing synthesizers to set up the main backdrop on is this and yes is an unexpected and welcoming foray into new alt music territories that while new isn't surprising from the band in the slightest. But the embracing of intense '90's dance music allows the album to end in a truly chaotic form as the pulsing beats of nothing is and kinetic dance punk of wonder 2 leaves listeners entrapped in a feeling of hot headed chaos, devoid of any kind escape. It's quite a dramatic shift of tone to what has mostly existed as a charming experienced of breezily textured vibrancy. But it would never be in the band's nature to end on a high note. That would be far to obvious wouldn't it?

So, being one of those albums you can't really describe with words, My Bloody Valentine have made what is a stunning comeback album with mbv. While you still can't fully make out Kevin Shield's lyrics, the music itself still speaks a thousand words and it makes out something delicate and very beautiful for the most part, with enough shifts in tone to keep you gripped in the entire spectrum. Yeah, it's awesome. It's a great album to listen to as an album for the moment, but if we put it into a wider context, questions need to be asked? Is this album set to be a guaranteed classic in the same way that Loveless is? Probably not, to be honest and I think much of the buzz about this album will always come from the fact that it is the first album in 22 years, and the extremely sudden announcement of it's release and the subsequent website crash. But I seriously doubt the abnd were all that concerned about making an album that silenced all the critics and made this album more out of love of performing together and to make themselves happy and I know that many fans will be fully able to embrace that with the band. This album's been along time coming and I suppose it's been worth the wait of 22 years and several hours of servers being too busy. And soon, I'll get to experience this comeback in a live setting. Where are my earplugs?

My Bloody Valentine's mbv is out now via Self Release. The abnd will tour the UK in March.

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