When I wrote about Loveless over a year ago, I concluded my post by saying “I wouldn’t get my hopes up for another My Bloody Valentine album, because Loveless simply can’t be improved upon.” And that is basically what my mindset continued to be as constant hints from Kevin Shields and new tour dates turned the mythical album from an impossibility into an inevitability. I promised myself to just be happy with what it was, to not bother comparing it to Loveless in my head because obviously it won’t compare, right? So I downloaded the album on Saturday night (after an admittedly entertaining adventure with their website that crashed), pressed play, and basically said “here goes nothing.”
I had basically the same worries as everyone else: that it would sound cheesy or dated, that Shields had worked on it too much and drained it of its energy, or that new music from the band would just be awkward and unnecessary. It took about three seconds into the first song, “She Found Now,” for literally all of those fears to go away. It sounded like classic MBV, straight from 1991. The next 50 minutes or so probably qualifies as one of the most amazing musical experiences of my life, as I literally sat in my room with a dumb vacant smile on my face because everything about m b v was perfect.
Now my brain has started having some new worries: namely that I might be insane for thinking that m b v, if not the landmark album that Loveless was, could be its equal on a purely musical level or maybe even better. Just typing that makes me feel crazy, but I’ve never felt so strongly about an album this quickly: I think m b v is an instant classic, one of the best albums of the last 15 years, a perfect and worthy follow-up to Loveless that will satisfy any real MBV fan. And I don’t say any of this stuff lightly, because it’s really not in my nature to just instantly anoint an album like this.
But just listen to this thing! It is insane. No other band could have made this, and bands have been trying to hijack My Bloody Valentine’s sound for literally decades. Think of all the “nu-gaze” groups that Pitchfork and other sites have drooled over, groups like M83, DIIV (lol), or Chromatics. Could they have done anything even approaching the mindblowing power of this album? Of course not.
m b v is an album that seems to tell a story of the various paths that Shields went down in the 20 plus years since Loveless. “She Found Now” and “Only Tomorrow” are pretty close to that album’s sound, with the classic loud guitars and breathy vocals. From there, things get increasingly experimental and thus more awesome: “Is This and Yes” strips the band of their trademark tremolo’d guitar, but still sounds amazing and obviously identifiable as MBV. “New You” is just straight-up pop through an MBV filter, and it’s lovely.
But the final three tracks are where Shields really lays down the gauntlet, as he adds some aggression to the classic Loveless sound while retaining its beauty and ambiguity. “In Another Way” is easily the best song on the album for me: Combining jungle-like drums (a long rumor about the album was about it containing “jungle music”), psychedelic riffing, and a classic shoegaze outro, the kind that takes you to another world that you never want to leave. The blistering instrumental “Nothing Is” segues into “Wonder 2,” which adds (gulp) drum n’ bass to their sound in a way that makes a frightening amount of sense.
As I write this, I’m realizing I’m using a lot of words like “amazing” that don’t actually mean anything sans context. I don’t really care. Music writing is stupid, because nothing I am going to type out on my crappy laptop is going to articulate how perfect this album is, how much of a joke it makes all other current indie bands look like, and how it’s more than I could have ever imagined it to sound like, even after I spent so much time thinking about how the band could possibly follow up Loveless.
It’s easy to forget that Loveless was not initially the universally praised behemoth that it would become — it only ranked 14th on the 1991 Pazz and Jop critics poll, behind albums by Ice-T and Metallica. I see the same thing happening with m b v already — critics are too cautious and timid to say just how good this album is. Of course, I’m well aware that I might just be hopelessly biased or reacting too strongly to my initial response, but I’m weirdly confident in my opinion here, so I’ll take the risk of looking stupid in a few years when people are still reading this for god knows what reason.