By: Scott Carney
Feb 15th, 2013
m b v is an album that I honestly thought would never exist. Like The Beach Boys’ Smile, a follow up to Loveless – one of the most respected and influential albums of the past 25 years – seemed like the stuff of dreams. Since 2007, guitarist Kevin Shields teased about an upcoming album from the Dublin-based group, but as each alleged deadline came and went, the record seemed more and more like one of those tantalizing “what-if” scenarios that music nerds torture themselves with. Even as they announced in December of 2012 that the mastering had been completed, I couldn't help but wonder if this was some sort of cruel joke being played by the band. I imagined that the new “album” would just be a single .mp3 of the band saying, “You REALLY thought we could top Loveless?!?” Those fears were put to rest this past Saturday, when the band casually released their full-length on their website. After a lengthy 22 years, the mythical record had finally come to fruition. To put things into perspective, the amount of time between Loveless and m b v is about as long as I've been alive, so expectations were astronomically high. Thankfully, m b vcaptures the band doing what they do best, and while it may be a bit unfair to compare it to Loveless, My Bloody Valentine confirms the adage that it is truly “better late than never.”
The album starts off with the shimmering “She Found Now,” characterized by MBV’s trademark hushed vocals drenched in layers of reverb and feedback. After setting an appropriate tone, the album segues into “Only Tomorrow,” a gnarled number that revels in Shield’s jangly guitar work. Though these songs hark back to a “classic” My Bloody Valentine vibe, m b v is not without its surprises. “Is This and Yes” is a stripped-down, melodic lullaby that shines due to its minimalist production. This gentle moment contrasts sharply with “Nothing Is” - an exercise heavy, aggressive beats - and the powerful closer “Wonder 2,” which combines drum-and-bass rhythms with the discordant sounds of jet engines.
A testament to the timelessness of My Bloody Valentine, m b v is simultaneously fresh and familiar, as if it were released in 1994 but still sounds years ahead of its time. It would have been easy to coast on the success of Loveless, an album that has deservedly earned a place in music history, yet MBV proves that bands can defy expectations and truly achieve the impossible. If only more bands could follow in their footsteps…Neutral Milk Hotel, Boards of Canada, and The Avalanches, I’m looking in your direction.