By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)
More than two decades after releasing their seminal masterpiece, Loveless, My Bloody Valentine reemerge with a follow-up simply titled, MBV.
Believe it or not, the last time My Bloody Valentine, the half-Irish, half-English, half-male, half-female quartet had a record out, grunge ruled the airwaves, cell phones were the size of milk cartons, the Internet was in less than 10 percent of American homes and people still listened to music on those tiny round discs, just to put it in perspective.
Loveless, released in 1991, garnered the band heavy critical acclaim with a large audience among the alternative and indie rock scenes. The album epitomized the “shoegaze” movement, which consisted of post-punk rock filtered through a screen of heavy guitar distortion with atmospheric, and often eerie effects. My Bloody Valentine embodied this completely, crafting pop songs that sounded like they were being dragged through the dirt.
The band supported the album with the typical world tour which earned them the reputation of one of the underground’s most exciting acts, with great anticipation for a follow-up.
And then… Nothing happened.
The band fell off the radar and disappeared completely. By 1997, a handful of performances happened with the project’s mastermind, guitarist and chief songwriter Kevin Shields, stating that a new album was in the works. These plans fell through as Shields and other band members went off and collaborated on a variety of other projects. By 2007, rumors again began flooding the Internet of the band’s return, but still nothing. Finally, in late 2012, with a handful of new gigs booked, Shields announced that a new album had been recorded and was ready to be mixed and released via the Internet.On Saturday Feb. 2, MBV was released exclusively through the band’s website. The site was down within minutes as the high volume of traffic crashed the server, making it difficult for anxious fans who’ve been waiting 22 years to get their hands on new material.
Often times when a band or artist releases a much-hyped album after years in the making, it can be difficult to live up to that hype and well, they sometimes fall flat. This is what’s come to be known as Chinese Democracy-syndrome (Chinese Democracy, being the highly anticipated Guns N’ Roses album, 17 years in the making, that proved lackluster to many). However, Kevin Shields is no Axl Rose, and MBV clearly indicates that whatever he was up to for the past 22 years, he took his time and got it right.
The album opens with the dreamy “She Found Now,” reintroducing My Bloody Valentine to the world with their signature droning sonic attack. From there, the riff-heavy “Only Tomorrow” and “Who Sees You” take flight, slamming Shields’ signature tremolo and distortion with lead singer and guitarist Bilinda Butcher’s haunting vocals. From there, the raw noise of “If I Am” and the throbbing bass line of “New You” clearly set the focus of the album, only to be followed by the thumping “In Another Way” and “Nothing Is.” Finally, the album concludes with the atmospheric, Stooges-esque guitar freak-out of “Wonder 2.”
Fans of My Bloody Valentine had a lot at stake when it was announced a new album was possibly finally coming out. So much time had passed, it truly was a gamble on whether or not the album would not only live up to the hype, but if it would even be any good at all. MBV picks up right where Loveless left off, sounding as though it could have been released the very next year. It has all the elements the band have become synonymous with, yet still sounds fresh and relevant in 2013.
All in all, MBV is a superb record to add to any collection of great music. For the band who were a great influence to bands like the Smashing Pumpkins and Interpol, they have proved once again that they are the kings and queens of modern alternative rock. The proof is in the music. And sorry Axl, but Mr. Shields and Co. have proven that time is nothing more than a number!