It was like it was destined to simply never be a real, live, actual thing. After years of setbacks and hype, followed by even more years of setbacks and hype, over the weekend My Bloody Valentine announces the release of m b v, the follow up to 1991's Loveless, a record revered not only as the "loudest quiet" slab of pretty noise ever committed to tape but as the crown jewel of the short-lived British phenomenon otherwise known as shoegaze.
So with baited breath--this time hoping MBV would make good on a recent bit of stage banter that it was a matter of days before the new shit would see the light of day--all the studio-can wearing, bedroom romantics this side of that Wire cover refreshed the band's website, thinking maybe this time it was for real. They refreshed again. And again. And again. Nothing.
And then finally, BOOM. There it is: m b v. Nine tracks, available now. Immediately the site crashes. Because what's more My Bloody Valentine than being given a promise, only to see it smashed against the rocks of time?
Was it all the latest stunt of the band's brilliant but frustrating demiurge, Kevin Shields? Nah. Just shitty infrastructure--blame it on the dial-up at Kevin's mum's place, or whatever. Anyway, eventually they upped the thing on YouTube to tide everyone over until the the vinyl ships out later this month.
And bless 'em. Because at the rate we're going, being able to "spend a weekend" "listening to the new My Bloody Valentine" is a once in a lifetime event. So you better the fuck believe I relished the opportunity. That charred 'lil whammy hop at about 1:55 in "Only Tomorrow"? Get the fuck out of here.
But I'll say this much: I'm not even going to try to come at m b v wearing any sort of critic's hat for at least another, oh I don't know, ten years? Rushing to review, coddle, pass judgment, or pick apart a record that's been gestating for two decades--think about that--that's already been a thing of lore for years is about the equivalent of trying to fold four large, lava-hot pepperoni pizzas into your face immediately upon pulling the pies out of a brick oven. And that's stupid.
What hits right out of the gate, though, is Shields' clear embrace of stereo over mono. Whereas Loveless can at stretches come off too dampened in one-channel beams of post-psychedelic maw, m b v fills every fibre of the known and unknown sonic universe. This thing is thick and full, even bulbously post-apocalyptic at moments. The band insists m b v was done (by which I mean Shields tracking 95 percent of the thing himself) entirely analog on two-inch, 24-track tape.
Of course, there's the elephant in the room: Kevin Shields is still a total dick. Even if m b v is a triumph--for a band that's transcended itself, a third long player probably couldn't have come much more realized and, well, bloody perfect than this--that doesn't do away with the fact that the oceans between proper MBV long players were all one big exercise in the art of breaking promises. Our sister blog Noisey puts it nicely: m b v could damn well save the world, but it won't because it's come just too late. Thanks for everything and nothing, Kevin.
Not to say I don't think some stuff just takes time. Stew on your art, man. That's great. Hone your craft. More power to you.
But when you continually build up a release all the while, promising time and again that it's coming and just please be patient it'll be out by the end of next year I swear, and then you don't? That's shitty. For such a borderline reclusive entity like Kevin Shields, dude was seemingly incapable of ever just shutting his trap, putting his head down, and wrapping up m b v without stringing along so many people who inevitably will just end up loving the end project, anyway.
Whether m b v absolves the man is anyone's guess, for now. Ask me again in 2023. I'm in no rush.
This article has been changed to reflect the following correction: m b v is indeed MBV's third--not second--proper full length album. We regret the error.
Reach Brian at email@example.com. @thebanderson