Feb 032013
 

mbv

So it happened. It really happened. After a 22-year wait My Bloody Valentine has released its follow-up to Loveless. Take that, The La’s!

As I admitted last week, MBV totally passed me by. I was one of those people Slim Jade suspected knew more about the bands they influenced than the band themselves. I have not yet heard the new album. I can’t imagine what a next album by that band would sound like. Where does a band go with that sound…after 22 years?

Fans of My Bloody Valentine, as you get your head around this thing, was it worth the wait?

My friend Jonathan Valania at Phawker is getting enough satisfaction. The following sequence of observations from his Insta-Review may say it all:

…[the] album craps out midway (tracks 4-6) when they peel back the wall of noise to reveal that there ain’t that much there there. It’s like seeing your mom naked. I don’t need to see that. But it picks up again…

The FAQ page on the band’s new website ignores the most obvious question:

WHAT THE FUCK TOOK YOU SO LONG?!?!

Patience, hata.

Now, when will the band release a new publicity shot?

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  56 Responses to “Fans of My Bloody Valentine: Was It Worth the Wait?”

  1. bostonhistorian

    I listened to about two minutes and was reminded why I thought they were useless the first time around. That being said, my music fan friends on FB are acting like this is the second coming.

  2. Well, the question to address is not necessarily “was it worth the wait”, cuz 22 years is a long time, and anyone could expect anything to happen. In a weird sense, nothing happened.

    That is to say, and this is a favorable review, MBV made the proper follow-up to “Loveless”, irregardless of time or trends.

    So, the question becomes: “Does it live up to where we last left them?” Yes. A resounding yes. They are doing what they do best, and this new album is no “emperor’s new clothes”. Anyone familiar with Shields’ contributions to “Lost In Translation” or his studio work for the likes of Primal Scream, etc. will know what to expect.

    I’ve listened to it twice now, and it’s a strange experience, it sort of has to be done in small bites, 2-3 songs at a time. There is so much of a legacy to be dealt with in this material, and there is such an overwhelming feeling of familiarity with the sounds and the voices, that it’s a bit of a wrinkle in time.

    Not to say that any of it is dated, quaint, or retrograde. It just “is” this thing, like some candy-coated frozen mammoth, that should have been here 2 decades ago, but here it is now.

    For the haters out there, listen to “New You” for its single potential, or “Wonder 2”, which slightly evokes “Here Come the Warm Jets”

    I’m lovin’ it.

  3. BigSteve

    I loved them in the 90s, and I raced to the website today to buy a download. $16?!!! Seriously? I’m sorry, but that’s just a ridiculous price. You’re begging me to acquire it through some other method at that price.

  4. ladymisskirroyale

    I’m part way through and loving it. Balm for the soul.

    It’s the same old sound but with some updates. The vocals are more in front in the mix, and you can hear the bass and drums more clearly. Track four is primarily keyboards with Belinda’s voice and sounds like a lost Stereolab track. There are some interesting sonic effects that come through.

    I’m likening it to Portishead’s 2nd album: similar sound to Dummy but no major changes. Maybe MBV will be like Portishead (another band famous for long stretches between albums, although not 20+ years) and wait for the next album to drastically alter their sound.

  5. misterioso

    Setting aside my own indifference to their work, I am actually curious about when, more or less, it hardened into dogma, or at least received wisdom, that MBV was the ne plus ultra of a certain kind of rock, or era, or whatever it is of which they are supposed to be the ultimate exemplar. Was this like one of the those recess appointments that presidents get to make when no one’s looking?

    • jeangray

      It’s all Brian Eno’s fault…

      • There you go, it’s true.

      • misterioso

        How so?

        • Well, bear with me, but let’s say it’s Eno’s fault, by way of Claude Debussy or Erik Satie.

          David Toop’s “Ocean of Sound” traces the evolution of such musicians who attempted to create compositions that hung like perfume in the air, existing in stasis, and created an environment rather than moving forward in some dramatic fashion.

          Fast-forward to Eno, and his approach toward music an atmosphere “as ignorable as it is listenable”.

          Now, I know that bothers some listeners, its an anathema to those who feel certain that art or music or whatever should focus our emotions and command our center of attention. This is why Mod, below, is groping for something more “tangible”.

          With MBV we get all those descriptors: swoony, intoxicated, ethereal, unfocused, genderless, amniotic. All the purple prose you dislike.

          I’ve chimed in quite a bit with this thread, and that’s because MBV really resonate with me, and with others, too. I’m not defending them or trying to jam them down anyone’s throat, but for a particular kind of aesthetic, they have in fact hardened into a certain kind of rock maxim.

    • misterioso’s question gets at something that’s also gnawed at me about this band, not to mention driven a tremendous percentage of my reason for doing Rock Town Hall all these years. When a band reaches such an assumed level of importance among rock fans and I can’t make much sense of it I feel like the one boy who didn’t get invited to Johnny’s 8th birthday party, the one guy who didn’t get the free AOL trial CD. Is it not a valid question to ask what was SO special about a record featuring loud, midrangey, heavily effected guitar and tiny sounding drums, bass, and vocals that people waited on a follow-up record for 22 years?

      Twenty-two years! If your mate went out for cigarettes and didn’t come back for 22 years would you still wait for his or her return?

      I lost my Dad as a kid – my Dad. I couldn’t wait 22 years for his return!

      I’m pouring on the drama a little bit – I know it’s only rock ‘n roll and you like it, but one of the things that’s been funny/aggravating through this MBV discussion, depending on how you hear this band, is the support cited of the 82,316 equally noisy and ill-defined bands who followed in MBV’s wake.

      Anyone who’s seen them live and who was already digging their record raves over how FUCKING LOUD they were.

      “I’m pretty sure my eardrums were bleeding.”

      “It was so loud my feet went numb!”

      People said that kind of stuff about Dinosaur Jr and other bands, too, but their records were more tangible to my ears.

      Without doing backflips, is there something I could keep in mind next time I try listening to this band, such as when I get around to listening to the new album? That one song I liked had rhythmic variation – it was more than beginner eighth-note rhythms and flanged, overdriven guitars. Someone compared a new song to “Here Come the Warm Jets.” That interests me. Having my feet fall asleep is not so interesting.

      I know people like misterioso and I run the risk of being highly annoying, but I’m confident that we’ll at least meet the challenge of trying to hear this band with more-informed ears.

      • ladymisskirroyale

        Poor Slim has tried to write, and consequently deleted 3 drafts, so I kicked him off the computer so I could have my say:

        As you are aware, I’m not the most guitar rock oriented person. But MBV is one of my favorite bands, and has been since Loveless came out (I worked my way backwards from there). I heard about them from my cooler-than-thou radio station friends, and my initial introduction was a live show from that tour. I know how you said that some people like MBV because they are loud; I would say I like them despite their extreme loudness. When Slim Royale and I went to see them a few years back, I waited out the show at the back of the concert hall because they hurt my ears so much.

        That said, what does it for me about MBV is they way they create a trance state. I guess this may be the way Dead Heads feel when they go to see the shows; I also used to get this way when I would hear Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir,” The sound of MBV is transporting; I don’t really listen to the instruments but let the sound wash over me. (Or in MBV parlance, “Drive it all over me.”)

        That Bilinda and Deb are cool makes the band even better.

        Some people are titillated by the lyrics, which I can never understand anyways (see overly loud shows, above). But they promise of interesting sexual couplings. That plus the woozy music makes for some fascinating listening.

        One of my favorite tracks has always been “Feed Me With Your Kiss,” off of MBV “Isn’t Anything”. I like the heavy beat with the more blissful lyrics gliding over the top. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-C7nVks6IA

        Here’s another fav: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxtoqK0WMtM The words are a bit easier to understand (!) Nice crisp, military drums to counteract the narcotic guitars.

        You may like some of MBVs earlier music; it uses guitars more traditionally.

        • Sorry, I should have been clear here: you and Slim are off the hook. You’ve done Reggie Evans-worthy banging of the boards in support of this band. You’ve given what you can. My prodding was meant to be directed at all those silently tsk-tsk-ing the skepticism or outright dismissal of MBV. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE! I ask you to step forward, box out, and help the Royales in their quest to establish a presence under the backboard for this band. No snide comments from the Peanut Gallery! No offline messages of support to the 2 Townspeople willing to go to bat for this band! No subtle looks of disapproval! And please, if you’ve heard the new album, let us know if it’s captured something for you that you’ve been hoping to recapture. I’m happy to joke around about this stuff, but I am also sincerely curious to know what this band means to you and why. It’s all good if it means something to you or me, right?

          • Oh, and those of you who think you are tsk-tsk-ing in support of the non-impressed-by-MBV without ever having listened to them yourselves are equally in my bullseye!

            STAND AND DELIVER!

      • misterioso

        Oh, Mod, you do flatter me! But this is another chance for you to be the Good Guy and I’ll be the Big Jerk. (I know, I know, you gotta be what you gotta be.) But when there’s a band that really does nothing for me for whom many others fall all over themselves with hosannas, and I make at least a half-hearted attempt to revisit them, or even to visit them for the first time, and still find them utterly uninteresting, my first response is not to think my ears need to be better informed. I just duly note it as yet another thing that lots of people like that I find totally uninteresting, like Jonathan Franzen novels or Judd Apatow movies, say. The world keeps turning, though, and tomorrow it’ll probably be something else.

        • Well, I can relate, because I feel that way about tv shows. I’ve never seen “Seinfeld”, to take an example. I don’t give a shit, and when people sit me down and to watch the thing that “everyone” is raving about, I’m like a moth, just looking at the light, with no affect.
          I guess it’s kinda like that.

  6. bostonhistorian

    I kind of lost track of here and I’m not sure if I’m being accused of not having listened to MBV or just uncritically bashing them. I haven’t knowingly heard MBV in over twenty years, so I thought I would be fair and listen again so I sat down and listened to Loveless in its entirety and hereby present my real-time listening notes.

    Real Time Listening Notes for My Bloody Valentine’s “Loveless”.

    Date: 5 February 2013
    State: Caffeinated, antihistamined.

    And here we go. Daddy’s Junky Music is having a sale on effects pedals! Floaty female vocals over a metronome. Need better drugs than my antihistamines. Oh, a garbage disposal sample, how nice. I think this is a song about cough syrup or purple drank or whatever the kids are calling it today. There’s the garbage disposal again. It could be the Tardis though, I’m not really sure. More singing about sleep. Whatever happened to the Soup Dragons? That’s not a garbage disposal, it’s some kind of guitar convulsion. Is this a fuzzy coda or the start of another song? Yes, it was a coda. How about we get some feedback for a change? Is this the vocal track from the first song played backwards? I think a lot of guitars were harmed in the making of this album. How many adjectives can be used to describe these guitars? Clanging? Dissonant? That sounds like an e-bow on heroin. Did the original album come with a prescription or a physician’s desk reference? Another song over. Wait, is that elephants mating? Or a film soundtrack that’s off its sprockets? I suppose those could be strings. Jesus, its pointless guitar soloing like Mark Konpfler’s soundtrack work, only worse. Hmmm…that’s a change. Shimmery…is the girl going to sing again? Yes, there she is, clawing her way out of the sonic muck. Is someone playing electric chalkboard? I wonder if you played this backwards all you would hear would is dead silence? I’m only nine and half minutes in. Good thing I had five cups of coffee. And it’s what? Forty-eight minutes long? God, CDs really encouraged bands to play longer than they should. Resolve! Resolve! Enough of this interminable “ahhhhh” “ahhhhh” ahhhhh”. Thank. God. What fresh hell is this? A warped Sex Pistols bootleg slowed down to 16 RPM? Hmm…this one sounds like an actual song, but with the warped record problem still prevalent. It could be the theme to a John Hughes movie, if Ed Wood was John Hughes. So much haze on this sound it makes me itchy. Just passed the fifteen minute mark. I kind of hear the Pixies as well. The synths sound like they’re being played by a roller rink organist who just switched to methadone. A little conciseness would be too much to expect, wouldn’t it? It’s a bad sign when I’m welcoming the silence between songs. Is this a waltz tempo? No, I guess it’s 4/4, but the rhythm section is apparently playing just when they feel like it. Whoa, I heard what sounded like two seconds of Penguin Cafe Orchestra’s “Telephone Rubber Band”. I guess the singer is trying to persuade me of something, but I can’t really understand him. This sounds like a dozen Manchester bands c. 1990, only with a big budget to blow in the studio. Ah, we’ll play this one louder. No reason for dynamics, just play louder. The girl is singing again. Jesus, was that guitar sound being sold in five gallon buckets? It’s like aural spackle. Uh oh…something about what you see. Okay that was “Come In Alone”. Another song about eyes. Will it mention sleep too? They didn’t have five hour energy in 1990 did they? An acoustic guitar for a change of pace. Still droney. Can you imagine seeing this played live? You’d need a sleeping bag. Mournful. Miserable bastards. Did I hear the word hide? Duck and cover! I bet you could needle drop into any song and it would take an MBV fan at least a minute to identify the song. “No, wait, this is the one with the strummy guitar and feedback, not the one with strummy guitar and tremelo!” Oh that was nice couple of extra guitar pulses at the end, like a fish flopping on dry land. I bet a million bucks this one is the “dance” hit. Toughen up the beat, conquer the clubs? Who invented that beat anyway? You hear it everywhere in 1990-91. Another round of “oooooooooohhhhhhhh—-weeeeeeee”. And little poppy synth voices in the background? Ah, back to sledgehammer guitars. A little more intelligible on the vocals, sort of like the shock you got when Michael Stipe’s voice came clearly out of your speakers after listening to the first two R.E.M. albums. Did I hear an actual drum fill? I remember when you used to buy a record and you could tell the band had really put some thought into the order of the songs. This one sounds like “Oh crap….we need something that sounds like a song, stick it on the end!” More “Telephone Rubber Band” at the end of this one. I liked it better on touch tone phone. I think I’m coming up on the last track, if this little interlude ever ends. Uh oh, this one’s starting with drums. Holy crap it’s the Blur Primal Scream Soup Valentines! Glow sticks for everyone….wheeeeeeeee! Vocal exercises….now words…..come on…bring this one home. There’s no other way….I’m free! To do what I want! Three more minutes…and voom go the guitars….we’re on auto-pilot folks….the Wedding Present do that guitar a million times better. Oh…the echoey fade! Nice way to end it all. Critical reassessment? Should only be listened to with a nice tall Lester Bangs special blend to drink….

  7. Is it not a valid question to ask what was SO special about a record featuring loud, midrangey, heavily effected guitar and tiny sounding drums, bass, and vocals that people waited on a follow-up record for 22 years?

    Ultimately, taste is subjective. Also, I think it’s often a construct. The reasons we like the things we like are often an improbable mix of age, where you were when you heard it, who you are, who you want to be, your date of birth, your peers, your demographics, etc. etc. But it’s hard for people to really get that other people are hearing something different in a particular artist because of the above, not just within this blog, but in the rest of world as well.

    • I might add that, when they came to prominence, they stuck out among foppish blue-eyed soul synth pop, and I-am-a-Golden-God shirtless Chris Cornell types (no offense, I like Soundgarden too).

      They arrived when I was already front-loaded by 4ad type music and the JaMC. Where were you when you heard it? I personally was in an aching, yearning, horny need for physical touch in my life, so it spoke to me and stuck in my persona I guess.

      I agree about a construct, and I can see that if one does not have a propensity for chaos, desire, id, or what have you, dissonnace is all they’d come up with.

      • “Where were you when you heard it?”

        As a public sector attorney and father of two who’s closing in on 50, I just heard them for the first time ever sitting at my desk, and I think… they’re alright. I get the appeal they would have for some, and if someone else put them on during a party or a road trip or something, I wouldn’t mind, but I wouldn’t probably make an effort to hear them again. And I don’t understand the jeangray’s powerpop reference with regard to those songs.

        • jeangray

          Mostly just referring to the catchy, repetive nature of the guitar hooks — somethang that my mind always associates with Power-Pop. Similiar to Mr. Mod’s Van Halen thesis from a while back.

  8. jeangray

    Oh boy. Where to start? I first read about MBV in Rolling Stone with the Brian Eno quote: ‘It set a new standard for pop. It’s the vaguest music ever to have been a hit.” He also said that they were his favorite new band. Still having great respect for Eno, despite his involvement with U2, that was enough for me. I picked up “Loveless” at a local record shop owned by the drummer for the Screaming Trees, who also highly recommended it.

    When I actually listened to it, songs such as “Only Shallow,” “When You Sleep,” “I Only Said,” and “Soon” stuck out instantly with their Power-Pop hooks. The rest of the album took some getting used to, I had never heard anythang quite like it. Sure elements of it reminded me of the Cocteau Twins or Sonic Youth, but to my ears that combo was just unheard of. I will freely admit that some of the other cuts’ purposeful dissonance was a turn-off, but I was in uncharted territory hear & had learned the value of challenging listening. Dance beats with massively distorted electric guitars? Perhaps there was a precedent, but I had never heard it before. At best the wall-of-guitars brought forth ideas in my head of Spectorish production updated for the ’90’s.

    This album was in heavy rotation in the jeangray household circa 92-95. So much so, that fast-forward to the present, and I will admit to being somewhat burned out on it. But that is no slight towards MBV, I get that way about a lot of Musik. Too much of a good thang has always been an issue for me.

    As for misterios’s comment about “…as yet another thing that lots of people like that I find totally uninteresting, like Jonathan Franzen novels or Judd Apatow movies, say.” I just find that argument bogus due to the fact that MBV never came close to having the mainstream appeal or earning power that people like Franxen or Apatow have enjoyed. No matter how much critical respect MVB may have, they are by no strech of the imagination a Top 40 act & to imply so, is disingenous at best.

    In sum, not the greatest thang since slided bread, but certainly somethang that folks had not heard before (circa early ’90’s) and that is always a good thang in my book.

    • misterioso

      jg, my point was not to equate MBV and Franzen & Apatow in terms of units moved. Those were just two examples that came to mind of the overadulation of mediocrity. For the record, I have no earthly idea how popular MBV is in the Real World. It’s true they don’t get cover of the NY Times Arts Section tongue baths. (They did get a reasonably long review in today’s paper that managed to be both fawning and dubious at the same time.) Anyway, I wasn’t presenting an “argument”: simply stating that lots of people like things that don’t interest me, and vice-versa. And, then, sometimes I like things lots of other people like. Ho-hum.

      • jeangray

        Gotcha. It just sounded like you were stating that you didn’t like thangs that appealed to masses in general, and I thought that it should be made clear that MBV is not band that enjoys mass acceptance.

  9. To so many of you – and you (and all of us reading) know who you are – I award the first-ever Reggie Evans Award for Doin’ the Man’s Work! Thank you.
    The Reggie Evans Award

  10. I think Loveless is similar to Wire’s Pink Flag. Either you are awed by their creative approach to writing songs, or you figure they are willfully courting obscurity.

    • Can you help me identify their “creative approach to writing songs?” I can hear the creative approach to the recording of their songs, but can you give me just one clue regarding innovations in the songwriting itself? Thanks. I look forward to learning about this.

      BTW, despite my not liking Wire’s first, critically acclaimed album, I do understand what is original about their songwriting. I’m not asking for clarification regarding MBV’s creative approach to songwriting only to be an asshole.

  11. They took Stooges riffs, but, then, rather than putting the melody to these riffs (as would be expected), they came up with a way to put the melody in counterpoint, which usually has a modal feel, based on one chord.

  12. I dug through the 33 1/3 volume on Loveless, and yeah, there is so much mention of the studio process. There’s not much at all in terms of quoting band members (it is horribly written) saying anything other than that the indecipherability is intentional, and a key part of their sound.

    There is an interesting quote from Robert Pollard: “Sometimes when I want to write lyrics, I’ll listen to Loveless. Because of the way the vocals are buried, you can almost listen to the songs as if they’re instrumental pieces.”

 
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