When I first read that My Bloody Valentine was finally releasing a follow-up to 1991’s Loveless, a legendary album that stands as the icon of the shoegazer movement, my first question was, naturally, “why?”. I mean, seriously. If it’s been 22 years, what’s the point? Obviously the pressure of following up an album as iconic as Loveless is negated by the fact that more than two decades have passed. Surely the band members have better things to do with their lives than to gather together and try to relive past glories. Other iconic Nineties groups have tried to do so in the last few years; most have failed miserably. Did anyone really care about Soundgarden’s latest efforts? Does anyone besides the terrestrial radio heshers even listen to new Alice In Chains music? You don’t see Pavement releasing new material, and it’s not as though Slint has decided to try to out-do Spiderland. So, it was with trepidation that I listened to MBV. I even took quite a while to listen to it after I acquired it. It sat on my hard drive, gathering dread like spider webs. Even after glowing review after glowing review rolled in, I put off listening to it.
I shouldn’t have been afraid. It’s not Loveless, but it’s very, very, very good. It recreates the sonic stew the band bankrupted their label chasing all those years ago, and even manages to clean up the proceedings a little. The album is still mired in the lower frequencies, with subtle changes rumbling under the ghostly vocals and vacuum cleaner melodies, but there are nods to real, complicated percussion in places. It was rumoured in the late 1990s that Kevin Shields had recorded an MBV album that added jungle and drum n bass music to the mix, and the ghost of that long-shelved project still haunts tracks like “In Another Way. The pairing seems as though it should always have been; somewhere, someone has mixed a set of dnb paired with Isn’t Anything. It falls short of similar praise with its predecessor by slightly overstaying its welcome on a consistent basis. Several of the tracks run longer than they really need to, although a bit of longevity can be excused after such a long absence. Taken as a whole, m b v is a more than worthy followup to Loveless, and a prime contender for 2013 as well.
Final Mark: A