Over the weekend My Bloody Valentine released its 22-years-in-waiting follow-up to its much beloved Loveless (Support the Independent Ethos, purchase direct through Amazon via this link). What does a full generation— or two— of waiting do to the perception of the arrival of such an album? Some people have found new reasons to live and are admitting to breaking down crying in the comments section of the up-loaded YouTube tracks by the band. Others bemoan the hype with one-word comments describing the album as “shit.”
I have never been a humongous fan of the band, but I do recall responding to the band’s sound positively when I first heard Loveless in 1991. I have even owned several CDs by the band. I am currently down to only owning Loveless, as the singular definitive recording, offering a nice consistency from one track to another. I’m not sure if its hype or the mystery of the dense, layered sound and how it might present itself on vinyl, but I have pre-ordered the vinyl, due to ship Feb. 22 (I’d consider the date tentative, as delays happen in the manufacturing of vinyl).
After hearing the new album at least six times since its release via YouTube, I still cannot recall a single lyric, but I have found some memorable musical moments. Listen for the end “If I Am,” with Bilinda Butcher’s coos and sighs repeating over perpetually skittering drumming and the groaning wah-wah guitar of the band’s mastermind Kevin Shields. Of course, drone is the name of MBV’s game, so this coda actually appears halfway through the song.
Another grand halfway period appears during the six-and-a-half-minute “Only Tomorrow.” When Butcher ends her typical breathy singing, a languorous guitar line takes center stage to play a part that sounds like a horn section.
“Nothing Is” sounds like an experimental loop by Steve Reich that only lasts about two seconds before repeating again. The band seems to have composed it of only the trilling end of one guitar lick and two strums of another electric over a singular pound on the entire drum kit and its echo stuck in a loop. However, the magic is not in the incessant repetition. There are moments of hidden crescendos and a hallucinatory melody. The density of the piece sometimes sounds as though the guitar is climbing a scale even though it is not. Halos of other guitars also appear, as echo becomes the dynamo that drives the piece. There has never been another MBV track like this.
As noted, the band up-loaded the album via YouTube, so here is the full thing, strung together in correct running order for the full album experience, which you can stream for free:
Note: the band has included fade ins and fade outs to the starts and ends of tracks and also presents them in the notoriously low quality audio format of YouTube, so this is by no means the final experience of the album. For that, I would recommend the vinyl LP. Whilst checking out to purchase the vinyl (yep, I am buying this thing) I noticed that the description noted the following:
“This vinyl album has been recorded as an analogue album. It was recorded on 2 inch 24 track analogue tape and mixed onto half inch analogue tape and mastered with no digital processing involved. The vinyl is a true analogue cut, i.e. it hasn’t been put through a digital process during the cutting process unlike over 90% of all vinyl available today.”
So expect some good quality sound out of the record and to hear something quite different in the music when you play the vinyl, which will separate a lot of the “mush.”