my-bloody-valentine-mbv

In the October 2012 issue of Esquire, there’s a fascinating profile of the magician Teller — the silent half of Penn & Teller — at the center of which is the story of how a magician named Bakardy had studied and discovered the secret behind one of Teller’s signature illusions, called Shadows, and was now performing that illusion and selling that secret to anyone who was willing to pay for it. Bakardy had witnessed something beautiful and otherworldly, then broken it down and stolen it. However, as the article’s author notes, Bakardy’s real crime was not merely that he had discerned and distributed Teller’s method; what Bakardy had taken was something much greater, much more valuable:

[N]ot the secret, but the magic. In [Bakardy's] hands and in the hands of his desperate customers, Shadows risked becoming … ordinary, remembered for what it was only in eulogies.

Kevin Shields spent two years and £250,000 building and perfecting My Bloody Valentine’s sophomore LP, Loveless; the obsessive auteur finally allowed the record to be released in November 1991, after nearly bankrupting MBV’s label, Creation Records. It was an album full of tricks, secrets, and illusions, the combination of which resulted in some of the most entrancing, powerful sorcery in the history of pop music.

By 1992, 21-year-old Kurt Heasley had unlocked the secrets behind My Bloody Valentine’s magic; in September of that year, his band, Lilys, released their debut album, In The Presence Of Nothing, which stunningly, methodically recreated the majesty of Loveless — maybe not wholly, but convincingly enough that it could have passed for the third MBV album. In a sense, In The Presence Of Nothing made a follow-up to Loveless unnecessary. After all, Loveless was not an album of exceptional songwriting — not in the traditional sense, anyway — it was an album of exceptional sound. And In The Presence Of Nothing proved that sound was not unique to MBV. It could be repeated.

That same month, Bob Mould’s new band, Sugar, released their debut album, Copper Blue — an album that also sprang directly from MBV: Mould described hearing Loveless for the first time as a “religious experience,” and the formation of Sugar was a direct result of his conversion. Ten months later, Smashing Pumpkins released the heavily Loveless-influenced Siamese Dream (which was mixed by Loveless engineer Alan Moulder, who was hired by SP mastermind Billy Corgan precisely due to that connection). Both Copper Blue and Siamese Dream took the sound of Loveless and reshaped it into something much more immediate and accessible; both also stand among the finest albums of their decade.

All of this is to say: At this point, really, Loveless cannot be followed. It has already been recreated; it has already been expanded upon. Its magic has been stolen. It is not merely a classic, it has given birth to classics. It is an icon, no less so than Never Mind The Bollocks or Nevermind itself. Loveless is bigger than the genre that formed around it — shoegazing — but more crucially, it is bigger than My Bloody Valentine. Yes, the album is preceded by some EPs and the Isn’t Anything LP, but those are comparative footnotes: as Tweez is to Spiderland, or On Avery Island is to In The Aeroplane Over The Sea. And like Slint and Neutral Milk Hotel, My Bloody Valentine stopped making new music after dropping the masterpiece, an act (or non-act) that assisted in the album’s ascendance to immortality.

Still, we’ve waited for the return, the second advent. It’s been 22 years, and we’ve had enough sightings to make the wait seem … well, not entirely insane. Shields has been around, here and there; he didn’t disappear. He was working with Primal Scream, Sofia Coppola, Patti Smith, Dinosaur Jr., Yo La Tengo … He toured with MBV in 2008 (and put on one of the most devastating live shows I’ve ever experienced). The follow-up to Loveless always existed in some stage of development. It just never materialized. When noise around the new album got louder and louder late last year, it didn’t feel like a fake-out — we put it at No. 1 on our list of 2013′s Most Anticipated Albums with the earnest expectation that we would indeed receive the album in 2013. Still, even after Shields’s January 27 announcement that the new album could be out in two or three days, we never expected to see it so soon — and when the 29th and 30th passed without incident, we merely assumed the ongoing wait was still ongoing. We couldn’t have been prepared.

And then? It arrived.

I was moving into a new apartment on Saturday, unpacking boxes and arranging furniture all day, and by the time my phone blew up that night with the news, I was nearly unconscious. My computer was in a cardboard box under a pile of cardboard boxes; I couldn’t even attempt to download the thing (and my attempts would likely have been fruitless anyway, it seems). Shut out of the event, I first experienced m b v vicariously, via the rapture and frustration shared by my friends and colleagues on Facebook and Twitter. I was too tired to be jealous. Finally, at 10:43 that night, Amrit posted a stream of the album’s opener, “She Found Now,” which was, at last, something I could listen to on my iPhone. My head clouded by Percocet and Chardonnay — self-medication for back injuries sustained during the move — I fell down on my new couch and pressed play.

I did not know what to expect. I did not know what I wanted, or what would have satisfied me. But immediately, those guitars — instantly recognizable, utterly distinct — lifted me. Around me, the world dissolved. I was in no place to apply critical analysis; I had been transported; I was blissful. Maybe it was the narcotics or the emotional high of finally completing a move after the emotional duress of actually moving, but I felt like I was bearing witness to a miracle.

On Sunday morning, I unpacked the boxes, set up the computer, tracked down the album, and pressed play again. Listening to m b v now, I’m able not only to experience the complete work, but to see it with a bit more clarity.

I can now talk about the songs as individual compositions. Following the (still) bliss-inducing “She Found Now,” for instance, “Only Tomorrow” has a sweet, poppy crunch around which distortion curls like smoke off the lit tip of a cigarette. And “Who Sees You” is a glowing, gliding, mid-tempo, midday dream with a persistent beat slowed to a lull by searing guitars. “Is This And Yes” features a cooing Bilinda Butcher vocal over swelling Stereolab-ish organs and a distant drumbeat. “If I Am” sounds like a summery bossa nova number performed at an undersea cafe, the sounds warped and unevenly distorted by the water. “New You” is a crisp, bass-driven alternate-universe pop ballad with a chiming Bilinda vocal that starts softly, then repeats and multiplies, and eventually becomes a small symphony. “In Another Way” borrows some of the free-jazz elements Shields brought to Primal Scream: The guitars resemble bagpipes or synths — or they maybe become bagpipes or synths — while the steady rhythms almost seem to stretch and contract. “Nothing Is” is a pounding, slow-building cycle of drums and noise. The album’s closer, “Wonder 2,” is a whoosh of organs over skittering beats; Shields’s vocal sounds like it was perhaps recorded backwards. The guitars — guitars? I’m really not sure — introduced at 1:25 sound like air horns, and that sound is reshaped and dissolved till it no longer resembles anything at all; eventually, it is lost in the storm that has been building around it.

I can also say that, just as Loveless sounded exactly the way its sleeve art looked — a blurry wash of pink-hued guitars — m b v too feels like it has been paired with ideal visual representation: blue blocks and smudges and purple letters against a black sky, not unlike the explosion of colors and darkness one sees when pressing hard against one’s closed eyelids.

Finally, I can say that m b v does not sound like music that has been worked over for 22 years; it sounds totally organic and intimate. It sounds like My Bloody Valentine. It sounds a lot like Loveless, but more importantly, it sounds like the follow-up to Loveless: The music and approach to making music have evolved with the artist and the technology available to him, while the voice and vision remain clear and unique. I can’t say it was worth the 22-year wait, because I have no basis for comparison: There is no other work of art that has demanded of me this degree of patience. But I’m glad I was here to witness his return, decades after witnessing his arrival.

Well, maybe not his arrival, but close enough: I first heard Loveless in fall 1992, in a dorm room at SUNY Purchase. I was 18 years old, and coming up on a tab of strong LSD. The person in control of the stereo that night told us this album had more or less been created to facilitate this exact experience, and as I became immersed and lost, I understood what he said to be true. The room buzzed and shook with the slow-motion machine-gun drums and sky-bending guitars of “Only Shallow”; by “To Here Knows When,” the walls and ceiling were melting around me.

Children conceived on that night are now 20 years old — older than I was at that moment. They and their peers have grown up in a world where Loveless is an undisputed classic, essential listening for even semi-serious music fans. I can’t imagine what m b v will mean to them, as they claim ownership of it in dorm rooms around the world. I also can’t imagine there will be another artist in their lives who will ask them to wait two decades for more music, at least not one for whom they will bother waiting, and certainly none who will reward their patience with such a generous bounty. Loveless’s tricks were stolen and sold decades ago, but m b v is a new world of illusions by which to be mesmerized and moved; here, again, My Bloody Valentine have made magic.

Comments (182)
  1. whoa this is surprising!

  2. Great write up.

    I love this album.

  3. WORTH THE WAIT

  4. Correction: Album of the year.

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    • I weirdly had the same reaction. I guess I felt it is hard to say this was about the music because it was about nostalgia and experience. It is hard to judge the thoughts of those creeping up on 40 regarding the bloom of youth. Or that is what I would say about myself.

    • Didn’t you say you were leaving?

    • You lost respect for Michael having an LSD+music experience as a teenager? I thought that was part of coming of age.

    • I don’t think you are allowed to say that you are not judging someone and then say that you no longer respect that person for the same action you claim not to pass judgement on

      • I just don’t get why every m b v review or feature I’ve read so far in its early life has to reference a writers’ drug habits. I don’t mean to sound preachy, but I wasn’t aware drugs were a prerequisite to enjoy music in the first place, so I never enjoy such footnotes or see the value in the purpose they serve to the overall content. It doesn’t make me believe the writer was able to experience the music any differently than someone sober, especially considering I experience these same feelings about the music being drug-free since the day I was born. It’s a poor excuse at best to justify otherwise brain-and-body-wrecking decisions, even if it was in the context of a teenage version of the writer, because it otherwise comes off reading like a “Hey kid, wanna be cool? Try some drugs, man…” ’80s anti-drug PSA character.

        At the moment, I am physically and mentally well, but in a dark place in thought, so I am not sure why anybody on here is surprised that I am being shouty / overly callously honest. I don’t pass judgement on Michael’s life decisions because we have free will and you’re all welcome to do all the drugs you want even if they damage your cerebral cortex –Your body to ruin, not mine, whatevs — Yet, at this exact moment, I am really just not feeling like I owe it to anyone to have to put up with anything that doesn’t interest me, hence my vocalization about the drug reference, so just let me rant, downvote me if that makes you feel better and be off on your way.

        *Queue the “Maybe you should take something to mellow out” jokes*

        • “I don’t mean to sound preachy, but I wasn’t aware drugs were a prerequisite to enjoy music in the first place”

          I have seen (i am assuming) most of the same reviews that you have and while they reference drugs they never once imply that taking them is a prerequisite to enjoy it”. The period of time where most humans fall in love with music is around the same time some experiment with drugs and so for many people there is a link between the two but no one is saying they appreciate music or albums more for having taken drugs. Don’t let yourself feel so attacked/insecure.

          Though you should know that if you take LSD you absolutely do experience music differently than when you are sober. Better/worse is kind of pointless to argue because it’s 100% subjective but you should know that it’s DEFINITELY different.

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          • Well I can appreciate being in a dark place and I certainly don’t mind you cursing at me if that is what you want to do or if that helps you in some way, though I am not trying to attack you I just felt like it was possible you were projecting some insecurities you might have about the relationship of drugs & music in your first comment because no one was saying that people who don’t take drugs can’t appreciate the music at the same level of someone who does but it seemed like that was maybe what you got from it.

            It would be like a group of people watching a movie and eating popcorn and drinking soda and one of them comments on how much fun the experience of snacks and a movie is, that doesn’t mean that if you are not into popcorn you can’t watch and love the movie. Statements like that are purely subjective.

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        • You should smoke some weed.

        • It’s insane to assume that

          • Not really. A few weeks back there was a meme published by Buzzfeed.com that spread like wildfire on females’ Facebooks and Twitters in which a chart labeled something like “Your favorite male celebrity is really, really short,” and graphically displayed which popular actors were 5’10″ and under. Based on the many reactions I saw from normal, professional, educated females (both acquaintances and strangers alike,) they were very vocal about how even heights the fell into the 5’9″ and 5’10″ range (the national average height of a male, I might add) did not meet their expectations for a partner, and therefore ruined their school girl crush perceptions of the actors. I felt it represented a brutally honest microcosm of the female thought process behind seeking out a partner.

          • you know, to a limited extent, i’m inclined to side with underscore on this. i think that, with most women, height is treated essentially the same way that men treat a desirable female figure – whereas you’re incredibly shallow if you select partners *solely* on the basis of these things (and lots of people do that), there’s no question that for nearly everyone they factor into the equation in one way or another. no joke, at one point in my life i was friends with a group of girls who i was highly suspicious made dating decisions entirely based off of height… fast-forward ten years, and they’re all either married or engaged to dudes 6’5″ and over. pretty sure those particular broads woulda never gone under 6 feet, under any circumstance.

        • You kinda jumped down his throat with the “loses all respect, shuts down computer,” I don’t think the writer is advocating that experience, simply noting that was his.

          But, other than that, I agree with your reasoning for the most part.

        • “It doesn’t make me believe the writer was able to experience the music any differently than someone sober”

          You’re more than welcome to be straight edge if you want, so I don’t want to sound judgmental, but of course drugs make you experience music differently. That’s the whole point of taking drugs. To experience things differently.

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          • ….If I said “the color red is different than the color green,” would you think that was a polite way of saying the color red is better?

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          • DUDE. Seriously now.

            I’m sure you’ve cooked up a whole justification for why YOU don’t need meds, but anyone reading any of your last 10 comments can see how desperately you need them. You’re waging an unnecessary war of words against no one (everyone?), and digging a deeper hole with each increasingly delusional post. Take a breather before you hurt yourself, man.

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          • Well now you are just contradicting yourself. Either drugs don’t make you “experience the music any differently than someone sober” or they make you experience the music SO differently that hearing something on drugs “isn’t at all the same when positioned in the grand scheme of reality”. Which is it?

          • mr. mayonaise, okay fine you hear it differently, but that doesn’t mean you hear it better or can form a better opinion based off of the chemical substance.

            Listen guys and gals, I am doing my best here to be mindful of others’ “feelings” (aside from the writers, but they have discredited my opinions for well over a year now, so I don’t think they care what I have to say anyhow…) and not upset directly because I don’t want to indirectly cut down anyone (a la raptorjesus) for just getting in my way. Pretend I am invisible font.

          • Well “better” or “worse” are completely subjective and meaningless descriptors anyways. I’ve heard music stoned that DEFINITELY sounded better than hearing it sober (stoner/drone metal for example seems exclusively designed for experiencing while high, there is no way I could listen to whole albums by Sleep or Sunn O))) sober). On the other hand, there is some music that didn’t sound particularly different, and in some cases even sounded worse. It all depends on person, mood, drug, environment, etc.

            So yes, if I wanted to, I could say that MBV sounds better on drugs, but it’s a meaningless statement anyway since “better” is a useless description to anyone but myself.

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          • Actually, with more thought, no, you shouldn’t. Being straight edge (or whatever you want to call yourself) seems important to you and you shouldn’t let peer pressure change that part of your identity.

            HOWEVER, you seriously need to cool out about admonishing the experiences of those who do drugs! Everything you’ve said reeks of someone who had NO IDEA what they are talking about. While drugs have certainly ruined a lot of lives, there are far more people out there who have taken drugs and found it to be a positive life experience. We just don’t hear about those people. When a guy on bath salts eats someone’s face off it’s all over the news. When someone has the time of their life on an acid trip, falls in love with some music, and feels like a richer and happier person as a result, no one but that person gives a shit (nor should they) so we don’t hear about it.

            But here’s the thing, THAT POSITIVE EXPERIENCE IS WHAT HAPPENS TO THE VAST MAJORITY OF PEOPLE WHO TAKE DRUGS. If really bad shit happened to the majority of people who took drugs then no one would do them. The cost/benefit analysis humans use to make every decision wouldn’t add up. Of course there are a few exceptions to this (krokodil, bath salts, crack…) where people get addicted to something horrible because of a myriad of psychological, societal, economic, etc., conditions. But those are the exception, not the rule. And those exceptions aside, the majority of users don’t see any measurable long term physical or psychological damage. It’s only when you over do it that that happens. Speaking from my experience, not a single person I know who’s done illegal drugs has ever gotten addicted to the point of it harming their lives. I’m not saying this will be the case for everyone, but the media tends to have us believe that most people who do drugs will, at some point, experience their negative side effects but that simply isn’t true. I have, however, seen people hurt by alcohol and nicotine but that’s a whole other issue.

            Furthermore, the experiences of these people is no less legitimate than that of a sober person. Whether or not those around a high person are experiencing something the same way is irrelevant. Reality is only what you make of it. If you and I listened to the same album while both completely sober my experience of it would STILL be completely different from yours and you can’t say that my experience is any better or worse, just different. The same goes for someone on drugs, the experience isn’t better or worse, just different.

            In conclusion, if you actually tried any drugs I think you’d quickly realize how your anti-drug tirades are mostly baseless; but don’t try drugs, be yourself. Do, however, STFU about shit you don’t know anything about.

          • I respect and agree with most of your point of view, and actually am not this vehemently anti-drug on a “good” day (while I don’t do drugs, most of my friends are educated, successful people who from time to time feel the need to and it’s never bothered me or made me judge them.)

            And if you think anything anything I have written in the past week has actually been about being anti-drug, anti-My Bloody Valentine, anti-Michael Nelson, anti-raptorjesus, you’ve severely missed that everything I’ve written that is in the red comes from someone who is anti-himself.

          • I’ve had similar positive, mind warping experiences by simply listening to one my favorite albums underneath the stars on very loud headphones. No need for an outside chemical to do it for me.

            If you want something else to do it for you, fine. But nobody needs it. Do it yourself.

          • Fuck yeah, Stephen Fish! Well said. I shouldn’t have bothered commenting on the whole drug thing, cause you summed it all up perfectly.

          • I know this is a day late, but I’ve got to respectfully disagree. While I’m sure what you’ve described is true in your own experience (and frankly, in mine too, at least among my circle of friends) – it gives a false impression of what “most drug experiences” are like. Specifically, what you describe is a relatively apt description of middle/upper-middle class recreational drug users, which I’d suspect covers most of the people who frequent Stereogum.

            However, at least in the US, the vast majority of illegal drug users (whether its hallucinogens, meth, prescription pills, whatever) do not necessarily come from this demographic – rather, we see most drug users (and therefor, most drug abusers) coming from the lower socioeconomic classes (the lower-middle-class to the outright poor). What you’ve described is someone who had a good experience on a mind-altering substance, but then has the adequate socioeconomic capital to appropriately weigh what the costs/benefits of continued drug use would be to their life. When someone doesn’t have all the social/educational/intellectual/economic capital to do that, then whatever feels good right now tends to win out, regardless of the cost/benefits you described.

            I’m not discounting your experience, or even that it may apply to a good swath of people. But I’ve worked in addiction recovery programs for years, and the truth is that there are millions of people who suffer from drug addiction silently… and the reason you don’t hear about it is NOT because they’re having such a good time. It’s because they are poor (read: invisible).

            [ALSO: m b v is really great!]

          • You can make an argument for acid; in fact in the last few years there have been plenty of tests done that support it having some therapeutic benefits. The reason it remains illegal though is because time and again it has been found that it is difficult to predict how an individual will react, and when the results are bad, they’re really bad. Years ago, my father had a patient come into his office who had taken acid once and could no longer look at a TV screen without freaking out. That guy is stuck in that Hell for the rest of his life. Also, I think maybe you forgot heroin and meth in your exceptions list. As with crack, which you did mention, those aren’t drugs that are exactly known for having lots of casual users, and that has everything to do with the fact that they are inherently highly addictive and alter the brain’s chemistry in lasting ways. No one, especially not an addict, would tell you that drugs aren’t fun for a while, but a lot of the drugs that are illegal (no, not pot) are illegal because they are ultimately dangerous.

        • Man, you must be super fun at parties.

          • That animated thingy of the figure bashing his head into death is one of the most hypnotically disturbing and interesting things I’ve seen in a while. I know it has nothing to do with the above conversation but there you have it. Carry on.

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      • Are there seriously that many stoners roaming these virtual halls? I’m kind of confused why so many are attacking Michael_ on this, other than he’s going over-the-top with his attack on the writer of the article.

        Are defending drug use, or the writer? The latter I can get behind. But otherwise, how about we change the subject?

    • Don’t give people shit for taking drugs. Let people do what they want.
      Although I think I understand why you don’t take drugs.

    • Yeah, so I don’t know if you guys heard, but My Bloody Valentine released an album this week or something?

      Seriously though, can we please go back to focusing on the music? Both MBV threads now turned into underscore vs the world debates. Michael_, you seem like a really smart guy, and the fact we have the same name & are both from Massachusetts is +1, but please stop being so combative and offended when people vote you down. And everyone else, give the guy a break.

      TL;DR Music is good and fighting is bad

      And to add some levity to the conversation, here’s Joey Tribbiani advertising Japanese lipstick for men.

    • Sorry, M. Nelson. I shouldn’t have written the above. My envy over people who live more fulfilling lives / are outwardly happier than me has caused me to react irrationally.

    • I’m bummed I missed out on this debate. I’ve had some good times on drugs and some bad times on drugs. Some music sounds better on drugs, some sounds the same, some sounds worse. In the same way that art can be a way of looking at the world through the artist’s point of view and gaining new perspective, drugs is a way of altering your own perspective of the world or of art. Drugs aren’t for everybody and some of them can be very addictive or dangerous. Alcohol and cigarettes in particular seem to kill a lot of people. That said, a person who chooses to take drugs is not necessarily weaker or worse than someone who has sworn to never take any mind-altering substances. Some of you guys need to get a little more perspective before you judge people or think yourself more righteous.

    • Great album, I can’t believe this is really happening! : D

      I can’t wait to drop some acid and listen to it. ; )

      DID YOU KNOW: (@ Michael) Brain damage is NOT a common risk of drug use. despite the media’s depiction of having your brain fried, science and OBJECTIVE facts prove that most psychoactive drugs do not do damage to the nervous system. I’m not saying certain drugs don’t destroy or damage people’s lives, but consider opiates, marijuana, MDMA (unless combined with other stimulants or alcohol), and all various forms of hallucinogens (LSD, mushrooms, DMT, etc.) have been shown to not damage the nervous system. Alcohol, cocaine, amphetamines (and various stimulants) have been shown to have potentially harmful effects on you nervous system. So, Michael, I know it was a couple days ago, but since you’re very concerned with reality, I figured it’d be a good idea to update you on it. If you don’t want to do drugs, that’s cool and i respect that, but if fear of brain damage has held you back from smoking a bowl, or taking a trip, just know that you’ll be alright on the health end of it. The greatest health risk from drugs is unintentional injury from suppressed coordination.

      • Also, if you want the articles that discuss the studies, or the text information (I culled this info from one of my text books) I’d be glad to share it with you if you don’t take my word for it. I hope I’m not coming off as a dick, that’s not my intent, man. You enjoy the music however you want, it’s good with or without drugs.

  6. This album gives me a hard – o n.

  7. And I think Pitchfork will give it about a 9.2–if not higher. They included “Only Tomorrow” among their Best New Tracks already.

    There is a second option, though – the customary score for british bands/artists who they already highly revere when they release a strong album, especially after a lenghty absence or releasing anything of serious note is 8.8 See also:
    Portishead: Third
    PJ Harvey: Let England Shake
    Spiritualized: Sweet Heart, Sweet Light

    But I’ll stick to 9.5-9.8.

    • Would love to see them drop a 10 on it. But I don’t care about p4k scores cos I’m my own person right? right…? RIGHT?

      • That’s what we all say. In reality, pfork scores are worth everyone’s attention when they agree with you, and worth no one’s when they don’t.

    • america, you’ve done yer homework :) and you are correct sir. The exciting thing is that all the above records are principally back to basic records. No fudging up the original formula ( with the exception of Portishead who made one heckuva revolutionary sonic reinvention type of record). I’m so excited that most of the above bands have been long term favorites of mine, and even after half decades or decades of waiting, they pop out a musical masterstroke..Why can’t Axl Rose be as lucky ? :P

      • ah and yes, I’ll wager the basic critical voting pool at an 8.8. on Pitchfork. Anything lower just wouldn’t be class.

        • 9.1 on P4k. Looks like this won’t be the obligatory default consensus AOTY on every website after all. I’m going to predict the next best candidate to top P4k’s 2013 list will be the Knife, since it’s going to be their epic in terms of length and P4k eats those sort of details up.

          • Yeah, it won’t be the album of the year like Channel Orange or GKMC, if you look at Any Decent Music scores, they are not that high. I guess the last year’s equivalent to this is GY!BE – no doubt great record after a long absence but not the greatest album since the beginning of the universe etc.

          • I know. I’ve been reading the reviews. Mostly its about an 8/10 on average. Not a mind blowing stunner to most critics and not chopped shoegaze liver either. But man, I don’t care-It’s GREAT. Kid A got the same thing when it dropped. Some were convinced of its (evident) genius and others on the fence and a few critical drubbing. Still, its a phenomenal album. Hopefully it shall toppeth stereogum’s list…after all, isn’t that the list that counteth mosteth :P

  8. I totally agree with this review, maybe when you all grow up you will have your own personal nostalgic album, this is a great comeback album, even better than the stone rose´s second coming. I was 16 when Loveless came out and I can´t count how many bands have been channeling them since that album. Music is about nostalgia and experiences.

  9. It really is an amazing album. Expecting the follow up to completely change the game like Loveless did isn’t fair; that is a once in a lifetime album.

    I can’t get over how good the first song is, and the vocal melody on “Who Sees You” remind me of “Come In Alone” in the best way possible while still being something a little different. However, “In Another Way” is probably my favorite so far, when the crescendo hits on that song I get goosebumps every time.

    The only song I am not a huge fan of is “Is This and Yes.” I wish it weren’t so long – it’s not a terrible song, but I feel like it could be only 2-3 minutes and it wouldn’t make that much difference.

  10. Has anybody else seen this: http://www.tinnitus.org.uk/taw2013

    Coincidence or is Kevin Shields just trolling British Tinnitus Association by putting this out this week?

  11. Beautiful write up. I too remember when Loveless came out and hearing it for the first time as an impressionable 14 year old. It changed everything. I’m going to go ahead and pull the trigger… easily album of the year. Nothing else matters in the wake of this release. Everything else will be derivative of some other band who has done it better. I’m sure they’ll be a couple good records but come on…. I’ve had this album on repeat since Saturday. Haven’t had the urge to do that with a new release in ages and definitely not to this extent. Shields delivered big time.

  12. Album of the year! Who cares about anything else after hearing this.

  13. This is definitely the best review of this album I’ve read so far. Thanks for giving this album its due praise. On an unrelated note, I just realized that the rhythmic similarities between new you and More Human Than Human could, in the right (or wrong, I suppose) hands, result in the mashup to end all mashups.

  14. I’m doing my best to withhold final judgment, because I’m like 8-9 listens in and certain parts are really starting to grab me that weren’t at first. I will say this one thing that I noticed: I think it’s really cool how similar in tone and melody are the outros of “only tomorrow” and “new you”, and I don’t think it’s an accident.

    Still not sure, I will probably report back on Shut Up, Dude! this week…

  15. great article, again another reason to keep coming back to this site

    it should be noted that bob mould’s twitter and facebook lit up mere minutes after mbv announced the album was coming out, so yeah – you ain’t lying when you mention its influence

  16. Love this. After 22 years of waiting, it finally came to us.

  17. Being a fairly new fan of the band, I can assuredly place this at the top of my releases so far for 2013. This and California X are great. Nick Caves good too.

  18. I don’t know what’s wrong with me but I just don’t really like m b v :(
    Do I need help?

    • you mean this album specifically or the band at large? (i knew we would run in to this issue eventually)

      Because i think Loveless is an absolute masterpiece, but I certainly consider myself more of a My Bloody Valentine “admirer” than a My Bloody Valentine “lover”. This album, and to a lesser extent Loveless are extremely challenging and unapologetic, if you don’t like it, you don’t like it. It hasn’t completely clicked for me yet, but then again the “click” that happened with Loveless was more that I just eventually found myself feeling so comfortable with that album. I think it was the mastery of something that seems to try so hard to buck you off the bull.

      Since I already sense I’m on the train to Downvoteville (I was going to try to work a Downton Abbey referernce but it just wasn’t coming) I’ll give you another example of what I’m talking about. In the Aeroplane is one of my favorite albums if the 90s, but even so I feel like I have never fully “gotten it” the way some people do. I mean, I’ve spent countless, countless hours listening to that album exhaustively, and I think it’s absolutely amazing (I’m actually going to see Jeff Mangum on Sunday, puuuuummmmped), but there are friends of mine who I feel like live inside that album, for whom “Anna’s ghost” actually follows them around.

      So I guess this is all to say I consider myself an admiring and conversant My Bloody Valentine fan, but they have never carried away my whole mind and body the way I think they do for some people. To each their own, I would have no problem with somebody saying, for example “I just don’t really like If You’re Feeling Sinister” (it would be weird to me, but I would understand)

    • You’re not alone; don’t worry.

  19. The thing that most tells me how good this album is (I certainly like it, but haven’t heard it enough yet to form a proper opinion of just how much) is that each review seems to highlight different tracks. The only exception is “In Another Way” which seems to be the consensus stand out.

    • Very true. With almost all of my favorite albums, I can never decide which song I like the most. “In Another Way” has stood out to me the most so far, but I can see that changing as new things are revealed to me with each listen through the album.

  20. Serious question: at what volume are you all listening to this album? Is this album meant to be cranked or taken in softly? Speakers or headphones?

    The reason I ask is the only opportunity I’ve had to listen to mbv is in my quiet office on my headphones, which doesn’t exactly help me pay attention the way I should. I feel like for this album, you need to have a proper way of listening to it.

    • Last night I laid in bed and blasted it on my nice set of headphones. It definitely gave more depth to the album’s textures, so I would recommend that.

    • mbv albums are mixed low, but they are meant to be cranked. mbv does not play at high volumes simply for the sake of playing loud. Kevin conceives of sound in terms of shapes with a physical presence, and those shapes do not fully reveal themselves to the listener at lower volumes. I always had the best results listening to loveless at night with the lights out while I was somewhat fatigued. I would close my eyes and simultaneously concentrate on the music and sort of zone out, letting myself hover at a point between sleep and wakefulness. mbv’s music is meant to tap into the subconscious. After experimenting with headphones, I decided that loveless was definitely an album I preferred blasting through speakers. While I have approached listening to the new album in the same ways, I have found the rewards of listening through speakers and listening through headphones to be about equal. You get different things out of the album using each method. I would say that as long as you have WAV files, are using some relatively decent equipment (not earbuds), and are trying to hover as I described, you will probably get everything out of it that Kevin intended. In addition to shapes, I’d say I definitely perceive something blue in it; the cover hits the mark.

    • I actually love listening to MBV at the office while I work. The textures take over and I get pulled into the music yet it doesn’t distract me when I need to write cogent emails. It’s kind of like listening to classical.

  21. Great write up.

  22. I know we are all quick to want to love this album… but isn’t this something that you have to experience for a bit before rushing to judgement? I mean, I’ve been listening to it over the past few days and it’s finally starting to all “click”… and I like what I hear so far. But it’s MBV. It’s dense, complicated shit! I just feel that we are all still a bit naive and premature to what this record means, how it will be received by the public, etc.

    • Well, My Bloody Valentine also happens to create very immediate sounds, I find. I quickly feel emotion while listening to them. It’s not like I’ve got to parse through the lyrics to get what they’re after.

    • I agree with this and said something similar in the announcement thread. My relationship with Loveless has always felt personal and intimate… every time I listen to it, I hear and feel new things. For a long time, my favorite song was “Sometimes”, then there was a period when I was enamored with the three-song run from “When You Sleep” through “Come In Alone”, and more recently I’ve really gotten into “What You Want”. But it has always felt like an evolving relationship. Which makes it hard for me to come to any sort of snap judgment so soon after hearing MBV.

  23. wow, what a great article.

  24. I like how a lot of people around the age of 22 are talking like they’ve been waiting the whole 22 years for this album.

    It’s making me picture an expectant mother blasting Loveless into her womb. Then it’s making me picture the kid being born with feet jammed in the eye sockets (GET IT? SHOEGAZE LOLOLOLOLOL)

  25. Really great article.

    When I first heard Loveless, I was one of the idiots that was convinced something was wrong with my copy when I first heard “Only Shallow”. The album didn’t really impress me that much and it wasn’t until a few months later that I felt I should really try to give it another chance. I heard more I liked that time around and definitely saw potential. Then I bought my first pair of really decent headphones, decided this was the album to send them off with, and never looked back. I devoured any other MBV I could find.

    Being so comfortable with this band now, this album was a lot more immediate. I got home drunk at 4am on Saturday (the whole time at the party asking everyone if they are fans of MBV…sadly, this town has horrible taste in music as evidenced by a girl mistaking John Lennon for the Partridge Family), downloaded it, and just sat back and enjoyed. Similar to the author’s experience, I didn’t know what I wanted it to sound like…but it ended up being exactly what I wanted. I haven’t stopped playing it since.

    And I hate jumping in on the drug argument…but listening to an album stoned has definitely carried over to listening to it sober. The first time I heard Mew’s And the Glass Handed Kites was stoned and it helped me listen to it at a depth I never would have sober. That depth carried over when I listened to it again. It has also carried over to other music that I may not have been open to otherwise (even without listening to something high for the first listen). Had to throw in my 2 cents there.

    • Sounds like the first time I heard Neutral Milk Hotel. “This guy can’t even sing?”. I used to be such an idiot.

    • The first time I heard Loveless I literally thought my stereo was broken or I got a bunk CD. I realized neither of those things were true and lumped myself into the “I don’t get it” category. Then one day I heard it under just the right circumstances at the right volume and it just *clicked* and became one of my favorite albums of all time.

      • How many great things have we dismissed by not giving them enough of a chance? Now I’m depressed…

      • The first time I heard a My Bloody Valentine song was “Somewhere” used in Lost in Translation, which I saw when I was 17. The movie didn’t “click” for me though until I saw it again a couple years later, and of course then the music clicked as well, since the two were inextricably linked for me and I hadn’t heard any of those songs before. For me, the music became subconsciously linked with the idea of willingly losing oneself in an unfamiliar environment. So when I listened to the rest of Loveless for the first time, I still had that idea in the back of my mind, which turned out to be a perfect approach to take, since Loveless itself is sort of an unfamiliar landscape to get lost in. My only expectation then was that the rest of Loveless would sound like music that could have also been used in Lost in Translation, and it did sound like that for the most part.

        It’s crazy how much influence that movie had on the type of music I started listening to. The Jesus and Mary Chain, Phoenix, Air, Squarepusher. I spent a good amount of nights trying to find out what song was used in the party scene, and didn’t find out until years later that it was “The State We’re In” by The Chemical Brothers.

        In conclusion, thank you Sofia Coppola!

  26. Very great review! What a grower this album is! Phenomenal from the get go as I first heard it, but I’m enjoying theh stylized nuances of Sheilds and CO even more with every listen. Stereogum, pls give this your ALBUM OF THE YEAR as well!

  27. Am I the only person here who likes Isn’t Anything more than Loveless?

    • I don’t know about liking it more, but I’ve probably listened to it more. It was definitely what got me into MBV. While less hypnotic and polished than Loveless, I initially found it more melodic, aggressive, emotive, and (charmingly) messy. In my mind, it’s a Kid A/OKC type thing…leaving one out as “the definitive MBV album” misrepresents the band.

    • Ok, point taken people, you clearly love Loveless way more.

      • I like Loveless more, but not by that great a margin. It annoys me how little Isn’t Anything has been mentioned in all of the discussion going around.

    • I actually have to admit Isn’t Anything is my least favorite of all they’ve released. I prefer all the EP’s to that album, in fact. Still good, just my least fav.

    • Isn’t Anything was my first introduction to MBV, it was (and perhaps still is) the best I’ve ever heard. Then came Loveless and that was disappointing, my expectations were too high. That album was too “full”, much less “space” in the music than in Isn’t Anything.

  28. I dunno, Michael Nelson…I’d say it rules ‘cuz it proves that in 22 years NOBODY has come close to figuring out how to rip off their sound.

  29. This is by far the best review of the album I’ve read so far and I agree with you on just about every point. This album immediately took me back 22 years and then blasted me forward into some sort of hazy, beautiful future. m b v was worth the wait.

  30. great review and writeup.

  31. I think it’s a safe bet that, between this record and the forthcoming Grohl-on-drums QOTSA record, sexy will have been brought back completely by year’s end.

  32. Damn, I wish I liked shoegaze so I could be happy with all of you.

  33. “Who Sees You” is by far my favorite track. It’s perfect.

  34. Great review. There aren’t many albums that seem to unanimously inspire “first time you heard them” stories. “Only Shallow” blasted through the speakers at 4 A.M. and sobered me the hell up.

  35. There is more bass on this than Loveless and I think it is easier to “feel” the music on this album, though Loveless certainly wasn’t as trebly as some shoegaze. I think they have perfected their feel and texture, but my take on the songs is they sound like mbv’s Amnesiac to Loveless’ Kid A, the main difference is the massive years in between. I’d say four tracks are outside of the Loveless circle. It is pretty good. It could easily grow on me, but what is maybe different for me than other non-mes, with this particular band, I feel the same way about Loveless tracks as I did after the first 2-3 listens, and I know which ones just immediately grabbed me. I didn’t have that with m b v. I don’t know if I would need drugs for it like our writer here, but it is also the case that thinking about ones emotional life at the age of 18 is definitely a more susceptible place regardless of the chemical accompaniment. Thank goodness- the internet needed to hear about that!!!!!!!!!!

  36. Yeah, mbv as the “Amnesiac to Loveless’ Kid A” was how this album struck me as well. Right now at least, mbv feels more like an album that I want to pick and choose songs from, which is how I feel about Amnesiac to this day. Both work well enough as albums, but not as well as Kid A and Loveless. And despite being a non-you, I also feel pretty much the same about most Loveless tracks as I did upon the first few listens.

  37. Hi Michael,

    Great review.

    Thanks,

    Maples

  38. Wow, so much MBV circle-jerking around here. Even without factoring in the stratospheric hype surrounding the album, m b v is decent at best – really, if it were dropped by any other band, there wouldn’t be a single person on this site even suggesting that this is album-of-the-year material. It’s almost entirely devoid of the passionate, beautiful melodies that defined Loveless, and made it into the classic that it is. Truth be told, Frightened Rabbit released a much better album this week.

    …Oh, and “Nothing Is” is a completely bullshit experiment. Why did this all take 22 years again?

    • I disagree. Although it’s true the melodies are weaker and fewer.

      • Oh, I fully expect that most stereogummers will disagree with me, but nobody in here had voiced the minority opinion yet, so I figured I might as well brace myself for a few downvotes and step up to the plate. :)

        • Wait… didn’t I…. nevermind….

          • Yeah, you were one of the first, Kevin. I got ya.

          • Hm, I saw that, but your comment seemed skeptical without choosing to write it off just yet, while I’m saying flat out that it’s not very good. Slight difference.

          • Hey man, yeah I actually just realized that my above comment wasn’t what I was referring to, but rather this comment i put on the initial “download m b v” article thread (tl;dr: I felt basically the same way you do):

            Alright, I’m about 6-7 listens in and I feel the need to say…

            This is an EXCELLENT My Bloody Valentine album, it perfectly captures their idiosyncrasies and does so in a way that feels challenging but accessible. I don’t really understand people talking about it as a “progression”, because it’s pretty obvious to me that this is boilerplate MBV, this album could have been released 2 years after Loveless and nobody would have seen it as a huge step forward sonically.

            OK so now the hard part. If this album had been made by any other band (and I understand this is kind of a useless hypothetical because MBV is SO of-a-sound) would the reception be this warm? Would this be an AOTY candidate?

            I think there are some incredible highlights on this album (and would say “she found now” is actually even better than it’s being given credit for), but “nothing is” and “wonder 2″ are NOT GOOD. If I’m wondering if my mp3 player is skipping that DOESN’T MEAN IT’S A GOOD SONG JUST BECAUSE IT’S MY BLOODY VALENTINE.

            I’m sure I’ll catch some flack for this assessment, but that’s ok; I did not have hugely inflated expectations for this album, and those expectations have been met, but not exceeded.

    • I think it’s unfair to take the cultural aspect of an album out of its context. The fact is, most great albums wouldn’t be as good if you took away who they were, the back catalog being compared, when it came out, etc. I actually think this album is pretty damn great, but if it were another band…I dunno? I think I’d still love it, but that’s assuming I’d give it the time and attention it deserves without having such a deep history/culture behind it. A random band putting this out may get a less warm reception simply because nobody cares. But, if nothing else, they’d compare it to MBV anyway, for better or worse.

      People have their opinions of taste obviously. If you don’t like it, that’s fine. I happen to love it, even if for different reasons than Loveless. And part of what makes the experience that much better is the history around it.

  39. I’m torn, guys… After listening to m b v the past few days, it’s obvious to me I really love it, especially the latter 1/3. But I just put on Loveless for the first time since m b v dropped, and it’s so instantly gratifying–I don’t have to ‘strain’ as much to love it as it is pure bliss. Is Loveless that much better or am I just approaching this the wrong way (does one have to be better than the other?)

    • I got loveless when I was 20, but I didn’t love it until I was 22. There was a strain for me, and the strain was changing something in myself, completely changing how I listened to music. loveless is instantly gratifying for me as well but only because once I passed through the threshold of listening to the how rather than the what there was no going back. I think with a lot of great albums there is a period of adjustment where the listener must accept and internalize certain aspects of the album before the listening process becomes effortless. That said, loveless is defined by its juxtaposition of pleasure and pain, and the explosiveness of a number of the songs throughout it provides a more immediate catharsis than mbv allows. mbv is a steep climb, darker, more intimate, and more emotionally challenging, necessarily delayed gratification that I believe is very much a comment on Kevin’s own journey over the last two decades. There is intentionally less pleasure (and I would italicize that word if I could) for the listener, but what is revealed over the course of the album, the process of being liberated or reborn, is equally beautiful.

    • Loveless is better. But like, saying m b v isn’t as good is like saying a painting isn’t as good as the Mona Lisa. It’s not really fair to try and compare m b v to Loveless, as that album is just completely on another plane of existence. It is possible to say Loveless is a much better album and also say that m b v is a truly great album and a more than satisfying follow up.

      • Well said. It’s like saying Loveless is a 10, and m b v maybe an 8 or 9. No need to feel bad about that, 8 or 9 is still fantastic.

    • Keep in mind you’ve had 22 years to solidify Loveless as an instant gratifyer. There’s a history with that album that has to be taken into context I think.
      But…yeah Loveless is better. Doesn’t mean m b v is bad though.

  40. So, not sure if anyone will see this, but Pitchfork just dropped a 9.1 on this thing. I don’t care about the score as much as I am pleased that they didn’t put out a review where 2/3 of it is just background about the band and Loveless and everything but the actual music on m b v. Their reviews can be pretty bad at times, but this one gets it right I think.

    • Haha, yeah, I began discussing this above. I think it’s a respectable score that grounds the knee-jerk gush a bit going on in every space I read and regardless of the score, the album will probably come in #2 or #3 on their list anyway. If I’m going to be fickle and assess it from the individual reviewer’s stand point, I kind of think it’s odd that Mark Richardson perceives GY!BE’s return album last year to be 0.2 better than this, but personal opinions are personal opinions. I’m having my own “concrete” score dilemma as well, considering I gave CEREMONY, Trash Talk and Converge 98s last year, Fucked Up a 100 in 2011, so I’m not so sure in relation to that number where m b v lies.

  41. The best thing about this is that I’ve heard almost no one complain about the $16 price point. Hope this is a sign that people are still willing to pay for music/bands they love.

    • I’m your huckleberry. 16 bucks is ridiculous for a digital download. I opted or the vinyl package because you get the record, the CD, and a digital download for that price, which is totally reasonable. I don’t care how long we’ve been waiting for this record, 16 bucks is gouging.

  42. What a beautifully-written, personable write up. Exactly the kind of write up an album of this magnitude deserves.

  43. A lot of people here said nice things about this review I wrote, and I just wanted to say thanks for the kind words. You guys are the best.

  44. theblackmap  |   Posted on Feb 6th, 2013 -3

    Wonder 2 is MBV’s “Bombs Over Baghdad”.

  45. I need your help Stereogummers. I am trying to find a “walk-out” song for my 2013 baseball season. It needs to be a 30 second clip of any song. Last year I had Midnight City – M83 starting at 0:17. I hope to follow it up with a better song but I’m having trouble finding one. Thanks! (I assume this’ll be down-voted due to obvious self-indulgence).

  46. Well-deserving of Album of the Week. “she found now” reminds me of what I love so much about most of Loveless. Also, great review. Although it makes me sad, because I’m jealous of how well this is written, and it reminds me that maybe I should start using my English degree for something… other than just commenting.

  47. FANTASTIC READ. Michael Nelson, you make me want to be a bigger MBV fan.

  48. This has been pumping on repeat for the past ten days. Haven’t had this kind of a connection with an album in ages. Almost started to forget what it was like to get truly absorbed in a record. They sure don’t make them like the Valentines anymore. MBV is the real deal!

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