Luna Kafé e-zine  Luna Kafé record review
coverpic flag England - Full Moon 202 - 02/25/13

My Bloody Valentine
m b v

When Luna Kafé editor Håvard asked me if I wanted to write a piece on the new my bloody valentine album to break my months-long dry spell of writing for this zine, it was during a phase of my listening in which I felt I had plenty to say - so I said yes. However, now that the album's been available for a few weeks and countless reviews have been published - many of which I've foolishly read - I feel like the music has largely gone in one ear and out the other, leaving me with little to draw upon. But here goes...

As much as I enjoy Loveless, I had absolutely no expectations about this long-delayed follow-up. Now that it's here, perhaps the best thing about it is that Shields might follow it with more - but in perhaps two rather than 22 years. There's plenty to enjoy here, but what's here is significantly overshadowed by its predecessor. While Loveless is a behemoth of a thing, resistant to dissection, this new album can be conveniently divided into three for the sake of analysis. The first three tracks are distinguished by their focus on guitars, the second three by their focus on space, and the final three by their focus on rhythm.

Led by a mighty guitar surge, the first three tracks are, predictably, an easy way in for anyone familiar with the mbv sound. They primarily deploy Shields' trademark 'glide' guitar in different ways. Opener "she found now" is superficially very similar to "Sometimes", its gorgeous fuzzy thrum paired with chiming clang and carried along by the throb of a bass drum. "only tomorrow" has perhaps the most obnoxious guitar sound yet heard on an MBV record - fuzz on the verge of splattering your brain in upon itself - until an incredibly inane lead guitar line at the song's coda actually performs the lobotomy. "who sees you" was perhaps the first song on the album that made me feel like mbv's return is a good idea - an insanely warped and woozy chord progression that's later joined by surges of heavenly overdriven guitar. And then the song just stops. Glorious.

The most startling moment on the album is perhaps the transition into the second three songs, which see the introduction of a shitload of sonic space for an mbv record. "is this and yes" is basically just synthesizer and Belinda Butcher's distinctive cooing. It's quite gorgeous. The wah-wah line on the following "if i am" carves out big gulping breaths within the vertiginous guitarscape, while "new you" has so little guitar aside from some choppy tremolo that it almost sounds like the heart of mbv has been sucked out. Why they've chosen "new you" as the only song off this record for their current live set is mind-boggling. It's a startlingly poppy moment for the band, and is frankly pretty lame.

The final three songs are piledrivers of insane rhythm, and act as a massive slap across the face after the pop sorbet of "new you". The guitars (are they guitars?) at the start of "in another way" sound like demented bagpipes, before the breakbeat vortex kicks off and Shields' nasty guitar buzzes around it like an enraged hornet. The introduction of horn-like keyboard lines in the song's second half does little to calm the chaos. "nothing is" lives up to its nihilistic title by serving up three-and-a-half minutes of a pounding drum and guitar loop. Finale "wonder 2" combines the relentlessness of the preceding two tracks into a thrilling black hole of clattering drums and flanging.

If this is all we get out of Shields for the next 22 years, it's OK, I guess. However, now that the long-suffering cat is out of the bag, fingers crossed he'll develop the confidence to unleash another snarling batch upon us soon.

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