February 11, 2013

My Bloody Valentine: m b v


At this point, writing a review for m b v is pretty much just an exercise in filling in the blanks. It starts off with the obligatory mention of My Bloody Valentine's near 22 year-hiatus and goes on to detail just how long ago and far away we are from Nov. 4, 1991, in a land of grunge populated by Nevermind and Ten. My clever anecdote could be the fact that this reviewer was still in the womb when the “when is the next album going to be out, Kevin” coalition began gathering, an assembly that picked up a new member every time a wayward teenager decided to check out what this band was all about.

And then, with a casual announcement, the wait was over. Once again, we bathed in complete darkness and complete light, the pulsating walls of sound, the moaning crunch of guitars dragged backwards and in slow motion, paired with the ethereal abyss of Kevin Shields' whispered vocals. It’s the same stunning duality that has always characterized My Bloody Valentine: aggressive and trancelike in the same breath. It's a sound that has been miraculously preserved for two decades, immune to the warping of time and pressure.

How a 49-year-old Shields has managed to achieve the same emotional lens as his 27-year-old self is an incredible feat, a testament to his focus and dedication, this man who spent 22 years trying to get it right. And he gets dangerously close to the perfection he works towards, pushing his definitive sound further with an almost industrial rhythmic edge as the album wears on. A few tracks—namely, the ironically titled “New You”—feel flat and under-fleshed, but overall, Shields can breathe a sigh of relief, if just for a second, looking back on his labor of love, an album that feels as groundbreaking now as if it were 1991.