26 January 2014

My Bloody Valentine - Loveless

Now this is an album which I have been waiting to hear for an awfully long time.  Steeped in history I heard the name of MBV many a moon ago, the legend around this band for me has always been one that has made me more interested in the band before the music.  I would read up on their shows and reviews, but not listen to their albums.  This may seem backwards but sometimes the anticipation is better than the actually result.  Think about it, have you ever had a band, movie, book, album or something you have been wanting to read/hear/watch and when it is over it did seem worth the wait?  Well, that is why I have stayed away from this band musically for all these years.  However, on a whim I saw the album was re-released and remastered by Kevin Shields (the main man of the project) and was for the bargain price of £2.  Which was cheaper than downloading just two tracks from the interlink from normal channels (you can do what you want, this is the way I work ;-) ). So, now I will finally find out if the wait was worth it or now.....

When this first came out it nearly bankrupted their label Creation Records; also it drove a wedge between the band and their label to the point that they were shown the door. As stated before it was mostly down to the fact of cost (reportedly costing over £25k to record) and they band hired & fired so many people that the legend of a revolving door on the studio came to light.  To be honest, when it was released they did credit anyone who had helped in the studio, even if it was down to making a cup of tea according to Mr Shields. It is widely held as a high point in the realm of Shoegazing (basically zone out indie) and when it was re-released it still charted around the world and in 2012 it official gained Silver record status (ie - sold around 60,000 copies) which for this type of music is nothing to be sneezed at. 

Opening "Shallow" comes on like a bat out of hell, full of furry and vengeful anger; which gives way to a beautiful and angelic voice that grabs the listener into a trance.  Then, the angry comes back and you in the void again. This is truly effective and one of the strongest openings to an album I have ever heard, and the feedback ending with harmonics is beautiful.  With its place in history I can see where a lot of bands have robbed bli... be inspired by these guys just from the light/dark dynamic of the music; I can also see why Bobby Gilsepie of Primal Scream wanted Mr Shields in his band when he had the chance (shame it did not improve them).  "Loomer" is next in a wall of amplifiers and drone vocals from Bilinda Butcher, but the bass and drums are held back in the mix.  It is like a dream full of angry and calm at the same time which is utterly hypnotizing; alas it is over too soon, but followed by the sub minute strange loop called "Touched" which reminds me of the Board of Canada track "Beware The Friendly Stranger". Silly, but utterly brilliant.

After this is "To Here Knows When" which goes further down the shoegazing rabbit hole of noise and sound.  It is like being on an ocean in a storm, but the sea is calm and gentle at the same time; also the sky and sea swap positions from time to time.  Full of light and day, it is the dark contrasts that make this so fascinating and delightfully difficult.  It is not easy music, but it is great music.  As is the almost the almost normal "When You Sleep", it is just a straight forward indie rock number which has these wondrous busts of discord and strange loops over the chorus sections. It makes this a really interesting piece of work just by helping change the mood of the song from decent to out there. "I Only Said" is more straight forward than other songs on the album, but it does not suffer for it.  To be honest, I like the fact that in a given sense of normal, it does not try to take the world a strange angle and lets the listener have a break of sorts; of course when I say a break it is still a brilliant piece of shoegazing noise that would make weaker mortals weep in joy.

"Come In Alone" has a loose and dangerous dark slice on indie rock nirvana, with the vocals being so long in the mix you can only imagine what they are singing about. The way the tone drifts in and out of everything is brilliant and the decision to deliberately record the album in a mono sound system is just another of the crazy moments that work in this album's favour.  "Sometimes" is the next track and is a slow strumming indie number, but it still have that fuzzy guitar rock that is easy to be lost in, but you know you will eventually come back from this daydream of sound.  You do find yourself loosing focus, but not in a bad way.  It is just a very good track to clear out your thoughts to. "Blown A Wish" is next up and is not as grabbing as everything that has went before, it just feels like whilst there is nothing wrong with the playing or delivery, it is just following on from one of the best slices of shoegazing that I have heard and any track would probably struggle.  By the end of "Blown A Wish" I get into the track, but it was a little bit of a struggle.

"What You Want" is firmly back in the noise rock part of the band's repertory and almost steals the album.  With the drone like wall of noise and what sounds like a flute in the background, you can sense how different this band would have sounded to everything else out there at the time of the recording.  It has an attitude which does not care what else was going on the world around it, it is so focused on its own activates and it is just amazing that this is over 23 years old.  Ending the album is "Soon" which is the longest track on the album.  Starting with an almost safe sound, you have a feeling that the band will soon drop the noise on you which does happen, to a certain degree, yet it always drifts back to the almost safe passage with a funky bass and drumming that hooks the darker moments.  I was expecting the album to end in a passage of fire and drone guitar with visions of Norse Gods descending on to the surface of the earth, but instead I received a lesson in how to keep the audience guessing.

I can see how this has implanted itself into some many bands’ psyches and that it has influenced many of my favourite bands such as Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails, Boris and others.  If I had have given into listening to this when I was younger I would have probably been a much more stranger boy that the person I have grown into. That said, as this has obviously influenced loads of my heroes I have probably got to the same point anyway.  Was it worth the wait?  Yes, oh my deity it was so worth it and I wish I had have listened to it sooner.  It is timeless and I implore you all to go out and purchase it today if you are blessed with the gift of hearing.  If you play it loud enough, you might not be afterwards; but it will be worth it.  After reading a bit more about the recording I can see why it almost destroyed the label and the band to a certain degree, I can also proudly say that I have found a band with a strange approach to recording than Axl Rose.  MBV, I salute you; you bunch of crazy mongoose drone overlords!

10 out of ten - This is proof that there is a God

Top track - Sometimes

You can purchase the album from Spotify here (this is the remastered 2 disc version)

You can visit the My Bloody Valentine website here

You can listen to the album on Deezer by this link

If you’re a Spotify user, you can use this link here

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