Tuesday, February 12, 2013

My Bloody Valentine: m b v

What am I supposed to say? What does it matter? Last week, My Bloody Valentine King-Of-Limbsed us with a new album. I don't know if there was any advance press for its release, I didn't hear it was happening until it was suddenly available for download, and then I downloaded it and suddenly I was listening to it. I did not know when I woke up that morning that I was going to end the day by listening to the first album this band has done in 22 years. Twenty-two years. That's a long time for expectations to build up. A lot of people have a lot of themselves tangled up in that previous My Bloody Valentine album, including me. I've listened to it many times in the past few years. I even wrote about it sometime early in this blog's run. And I was then and still am without a perfect expression for how much I love that album. It's spacy and distant and imposing and yet raw and personal and up-close. It seemed almost impenetrable, and then one day I got it. Maybe I don't understand it, but I get it. But this isn't Loveless we're talking about. This is what happens after an album like Loveless. 22 years after. Maybe that entails a certain amount of baggage, and if that keeps you from enjoying the new album, m b v, then I guess I can understand that but I don't agree. If anything, the years have improved this album for me, because it helps avoid the context, trimming the fat away from the usual expectations of a follow-up. It may have two decades of anticipation, but its arrival may have given it amnesty.

I think if they had come out with a new album within two or five years of Loveless, a lot of people would have had their ideas about what MBV should have done. What directions form Loveless were worth pursuing further, what should be discarded, what new avenues were or weren't worth pursuing. There's a lot that can go wrong with a follow-up project, especially something whose appeal is so nebulous yet all-consuming as Loveless's. People think that it belongs to them, that their interpretation of it, their idea of it is the correct one, and the follow up is a perversion of that. It's a no-win scenario so for years we got used to the idea that there would never be another My Bloody Valentine album. Then suddenly there is one. And you guys, it's really, really good.

It has that distance, that rawness, that coldness yet warmth, that slow-spinning hurricane of everythingness sounds, it has sounds that Loveless did not have and it lacks sounds that Loveless did have. At times it feels more rhythmic and maybe even more structured, but it also has "nothing is" which is a churning, mechanical sample for 3:34 very unpleasant-to-listen-to minutes but for some reason I keep letting it play instead of skipping, because it is part of the set and sitting at the end of this album it feels somehow earned. There are bits on this album that I love more instantly and completely than bits of Loveless, like that sad, staggering riff in "only tomorrow," which sounds like exhausted glee, excitement about being depressed, the million contradictions that MBV's music seems to inhabit. Delicate and brutal. "new you" is almost the pitch perfect MBV song you didn't know you were missing.

My Bloody Valentine has a monopoly on a certain sound... scarcely imitated and even more rarely duplicated. That they can play around within it, still sounding faithful and fresh, is very exciting. They took their time and were able to labor over this one for two decades -- okay I do not know how much of that time was spent literally working on music, but my point is they were given breathing room to decide exactly how an MBV album sounds and this is it. This is one. They are the makers of this music that I still don't fully understand but will revisit time and again to experience, to be in awe of the choices they made in creating it, the particular ways the guitars warp and drums chunk and vocals mutter.

Few things account for themselves as well as this band, these records. I have absolutely no business telling My Bloody Valentine how to make their records, nor telling people they should be into MBV. Quite honestly, not everybody has to. As much as it feels nice to be in this club, the point is that it definitely does not need to be for everybody. It's different from other things and as enjoyable as the only other albums by this band, which is what matters to me. It's a matter of taste and this satisfies mine, far above and beyond the call of duty.

My only gripe is that they didn't wait a couple of weeks to release it on My Bloody Valentine's Day. But if that means I got to hear it sooner so be it.

Buy this album right now! Seriously, do it!

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