The Twin Peaks of My Bloody Valentine's m b v
by Dave Segal
on Mon, Feb 4, 2013 at 3:55 PM
A proper review of My Bloody Valentine’s looooong-awaited follow-up to 1991’s Loveless, m b v, is going to have to wait till I’ve had more time to immerse myself in it. Hey, MBV took over 21 years to release their third album; let’s not be overly impulsive in judging it. However, one thing needs to be said right now: With so much anticipation having been built up over the last two decades plus, the only way MBV’s difficult third album could’ve met expectations would be if it nullified the very laws of gravity. This did not happen. The new songs sound very much like the logical successor to those on Loveless and 1988’s Isn’t Anything. And for most devoted fans, that is quite enough.
That being said, two of m b v’s nine tracks immediately stood out for me: “Nothing Is” and “Wonder 2.” Not sure why they’re the last two songs on the album, but trying to figure out Kevin Shields’ motives is always a fool’s errand, so let’s move on.
“Nothing Is” hurtles forth at thoroughbred speed, powered by a rhythm MBV have never before used; it sounds like 4/4 industrial-techno beats booming along with snappy bop-jazz fills. Over this, overdriven guitars rev their engines over and over, making me set a record for most times using the word “over” in one sentence. “Nothing Is” bears no deviations and no development; it’s all climax, throbbing with unbearable intensity like a vein in a god’s pain-wracked forehead, and you should feel wrung out yet exhilarated by the end of it.
“Wonder 2” carries a faint resemblance to “All I Need” off of Isn’t Anything. It begins with guitars both jangling furiously and replicating the sounds of jet airliners streaking across the sky while Bilinda Butcher and Shields do their patented androgynous, “fading out in the maelstrom” swoon croon. Far below this, a heartbeat lub-dubs faintly. Gradually, swift, skittering beats enter earshot, sounding like a meth addict obsessively shaking coins in a tin cup. The track seems to be spiraling ever upward, with periodic shafts of radiant, Fripp-ian tone melisma (ca. “Red”) festooning the helix. It's fucking vertiginous, mate.
I wish Shields and co. had explored these directions more expansively on m b v. But after a few listens, it seems to me like most of the record could’ve been made in 1992; the music bears few signs of the bold leaps of innovation MBV had shown in their fertile heyday (1987-1991). I like it fine, but, as expressed earlier, I was expecting the sonic equivalent of the Third Coming (Seefeel's Quique was the Second Coming, if you're keeping score).
Okay, I guess I am being overly impulsive in my judgment. I couldn't help myself. Still, I ordered the vinyl, which comes with a CD and download. I’ll probably buy the goddamn T-shirt, too.