My Bloody Valentine: m b v (SELF-RELEASED) | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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My Bloody Valentine

m b v


Feb 07, 2013 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

When Radiohead put out The King of Limbs online with just five days’ notice, Al Horner wrote an excellent blog post on how the immediacy of the release spelled impending doom for music journalism. Now, with m b v, My Bloody Valentine may have perfected the art of the unreviewable album.

Horner’s argument, that reviews should be considered and informed rather than knee-jerk reactions tossed off in the name of immediacy, rings equally true with m b v as it did with The King of Limbs. But then for every shout of derision in the face of an early review comes the counter that rock music is immediate and visceral, and thus so should be our published feelings on it. Furthermore, m b v is the follow-up, 22 years in coming, to Loveless, a groundbreaking, beautiful album as revered in music critic circles as The Wire is to television and Annie Hall to cinema. How are those of us who want our critiques to be taken seriously to know where to begin?

Comparisons with Loveless are of course inevitable, in part because of the legacy of the 1991 album, but also because the first six tracks on m b v are unmistakeably of the same band. “Who sees you” and “new you” are replete with all of the shimmering, swirling density of noise that makes listening to My Bloody Valentine an exciting, physical experience. Meanwhile “is this and yes” is all silvery shards of gliding light as the synths are brought to the fore. Kevin Shields et al. have always delighted in picking gorgeous melodies from waves of seemingly overpowering noise, but you might wonder if this is quite 22 years of progress.

Then again, this is Loveless we’re talking about, and saying something sounds too similar to Loveless is like telling a girl you won’t date her because she looks a bit too much like Marion Cotillard. Over those 22 years countless imitators have tried to get that same sound out of their Jazzmasters to little avail, and so it would be almost churlish not to bathe in the return of this unique sound. Besides, there are subtle differences here and there; the use of more complex time signatures on songs such as “she found now” and “if i am” means that for all their beauty, the songs are noticeably less immediate than the likes of Loveless tracks “I Only Said” and “When You Sleep,” and “if i am” is surprisingly groovy.

If anything, the opening two-thirds of the album are the perfect re-submergence into the band’s sound before m b v takes a turn for the sublime on its final three tracks. From the moment “in another way” opens with freakishly squawking bagpipes, melody recedes from prominence to make way for punkish chaos. My Bloody Valentine’s loudness is legendary, but would be nothing without the ability to viscerally thrill in the way that the furiously circling and sawing guitars on “in another way” or the proto-metal drum & bass on “nothing is” dothink Einstürzende Neubauten playing Yo La Tengo without a hint of derivativeness. There is no relenting either for the hurricaneseriously, it sounds like it’s being played in a wind tunnelof phasers and filters on the closer “wonder 2.”

Twenty-two years in the making or not, this is a return that captivates, excites, and is relentless in its grab for your attention. It’s the perfect comeback. (

Author rating: 9.5/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10


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February 7th 2013

On first listen m b v sounded terrible, the more I listen to it though the better it gets. Not quite as ‘immediate’ as Loveless, but it’s deeper and darker - which is no bad thing!

Still Ill
February 9th 2013

Your comment about how this release “may have perfected the art of the unreviewable album” was spot on.  It really leveled the field between critics and their readers—last Saturday, listeners could form their own opinions about mbv without influence from critics.  It was nice being able to think for myself for once without a review or score coloring my expectations in any way, even subconsciously.

That said, at first I didn’t realize just how good the album was until the last four tracks hit me.  Just as with Loveless, every time I listen it gets better. I notice new things and have new favorite tracks.  And it’s hard not to compare it all to Loveless—there’s an effortless grace to that record that wasn’t perfectly recreated here, but considering the raw power of tracks like ‘wonder 2,’ maybe it didn’t need to have been.  There are also plenty of really beautiful parts, like the bridge and coda in ‘if i am.’  So much variety, and yet the sequencing ties the album together very well. 

As a fan of this band I may be biased, but I believe in ten years or so m b v will go down as a classic.  It probably won’t be remembered as a better album than Loveless, but rather as a worthy follow-up.  All it needs now is critical distance.

August 2nd 2013

Excellent album!