by isabella mchardy (@izzscarlett)
In 2013, My Bloody Valentine released m b v, their first album in 21 years. It broke 2 decades worth of silence with this self-produced and self-released body of hazy dream pop. After years of production and speculation, the nine track album was put out into the world, providing new music for a genre that had been mostly left in the last century. Five years on, m b v is still as intense as ever, and the only album of its kind in our time.
MBV is similar to the Irish act’s other work in production and style but is somehow darker and pushes the band further. As a follow up to the successful album, Loveless, most of it isn’t shocking. Each song is delivered differently, some with a hint of surprise. But what makes this third album so special is simply that. Almost 22 years later, My Bloody Valentine managed to make an album so true to themselves as a band and to shoegaze, a genre they helped mould.
m b v is the perfect album to get lost in. The 9 tracks can be separated into three groups. Each with its own twist on what we know to be My Bloody Valentine’s distinct sound. The first flood the listener with layers upon layers of foggy distortion and echoing vocals. The album begins with she found now, a slow, ambient track that welcomes you back into the world of beautiful noise. The second ventures into a simpler, rhythmic classic pop haze. Track four is this and yes builds slowly. Distorted guitar is replaced with a steady keyboard. in another way kicks off the final section of the album; it’s full to the brim of percussion and more defined riffs, its heavier than what has come before. nothing is sounds like a broken record – jumpy and intense, it appears to get louder, once again making use of drum and bass sounds as well as fuzzy guitar.
Incoherent voices of Kevin Shields and Belinda Butcher stretch across tracks. Lines like ‘into the night you won’t come back to/ into your heart it’s the only you’, give a hint of context, but leave the listener to fill in the rest. That is what makes m b v such a personal album: it morphs into whatever the listener needs it to be.
Although, Shields writes of love and pain like many bands of the eighties and nineties, what separates m b v from the rest is that My Bloody Valentine have grown up. As a band, they have shown us how they sound 20 years on. More complex, but still as intriguing as ever. They have perfected their craft and it manifests beautifully and continues to do so five years on.
Releasing a shoegaze album in 2013 seems like a bad idea; most of the bands fans had accepted that no new music was to come, the thoughtful dreamers of the nineties had grown up and moved on. Somehow though when m b v was released, it all came flooding back. Not permanently or on a huge scale, but the album quickly received critical acclaim, earning spots on Pitchfork and Stereogum’s AOTY lists. Fast forward to 2018, m b v is still as tantalizing as it was when it was released. With every listen comes a new favourite track or snippet of a passing reverb. Although not as widely recognised as its older sibling, Loveless, this album is sure to become a classic.