Groundhog Day brought with it a pretty good one-off test of how insanely interested in music your friends are. Out of nowhere, shoegaze gods My Bloody Valentine released m b v, their first album in 22 years. Lots of people didn’t really care, because they’d probably never heard of My Bloody Valentine.
Some, like me, completely lost it.
It seems that the most effective way to generate hype, if you’re a reasonably established artist, is to just drop your new full-length out of the blue. Radiohead has done it a couple of times. Death Grips was doing it last year. Since instantaneously crashing their website on announcement of the release, m b v has exploded all over the internet, as far as I can tell, and I couldn’t be more excited to review it.
What’s most immediately striking about the album is how much it sounds like My Bloody Valentine. Not only that, but it sounds straight out of the early 90’s. It’s uncanny, especially in the production. Is m b v dumbing itself down to sound like Loveless? Or was the latter, which essentially bankrupted the label that put it out, so ahead of its time that m b v‘s production can hardly improve upon it? Only Kevin Shields, MBV’s frontman and a master of the recording studio, truly knows the answer to those questions, but the end result is lovely. This is in no small part due to Bilinda Butcher, who returns to share vocals with Shields. Against the heavily-distorted guitars and pulsing rhythms, she again uses her dreamy voice to add a layer of sugar to the tracks that has always been a hallmark for the band.
There are highlights abound throughout the album, among them the melodies on “New You” and “Only Tomorrow”. The killer closer of “Wonder 2” is currently my favorite part of the album, and really shows off Shields and his mastery of the studio. The interludes, while they certainly serve their purpose, do just enough to rob m b v of its momentum that I can’t give it a perfect grade. But for a follow-up that many thought they would never hear, m b v truly has to be heard to be believed.
The band understands the music industry and the nature of piracy. As such, they’ve put the entire album on YouTube for your listening pleasure. If you can support them, please do so, but I’ve linked the YouTube playlist below.