My Bloody Valentine Kills Time With Ultimate Talent
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
My Bloody Valentine’s sad, spacy soundscapes, tinged with tragedy and time are all love for fans who’ve stayed loyal through a 22-year wait.
By Josephine Basch
The early 1990s were an exciting time in music – record labels were flush with cash from actual record sales, artistic growth was applauded as investments were made in artist development and the digital wave of piracy hadn’t hit yet. New musical ground was being forged, and it seemed there was something for everyone. And under the indie-rock/alternative umbrella, Blur, Oasis and Elastica were driving the BritPop Sound.
And then there was “Shoegazing” – the anti-pop subgenre for those who liked their British rock a little less polished and orderly. Tedious titles and categorization aside, fans of heavily layered guitars (often referred to as “wall of sound”), drowned out melodies and ethereal vocals had plenty to sink their teeth into. At the helm of this sound was an Irish group, presently four members deep, by the name of My Bloody Valentine – known for their bending of notes and lush sonic soundscapes as evidenced in the innovative ”glide guitar” technique track “Soon”.
The 9-track project not only picked up where they left off, it managed to subtly incorporate modern elements of electronic music.
Having released their first full-length album, Isn’t Anything, in 1988, the Dublin natives achieved critical acclaim in the early ’90s – shortly after releasing their second and seemingly final effort, 1991’s Loveless. The album, while internationally lauded, was the beginning of the end for the member shifting band. Reasons for their split ranged from label troubles with Creation Records to rumors of band meltdowns and writer’s block. Over the years since, the impact of the group only increased, as a new wave of artists such as Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins) and Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails), as well as members of U2 and Radiohead, cited MBV as a musical influence.
There were occasional sightings though. In 2003, frontman Kevin Shields was brought on as composer and producer of the Lost In Translation soundtrack, which included a previously released track from MBV and new solo material by Shields. In 2008, fans worldwide were delighted to see the group back on stage at The Roundhouse in London, performing their notoriously loud set (they now give out earplugs at shows) as though no time at all had passed. Yet, even after that brief moment of unity, it still took them another five years to release their third album.
MBV came out in February 2013 and while it took 22 years to complete, the 9-track project not only picked up where they left off, it managed to subtly incorporate modern elements of electronic music. More impressively, the band marked their comeback on their own terms, without a record label – the album was sold directly on their own website and promoted on Facebook. Older and wiser? Maybe. Yet the music is every bit as groundbreaking and transcendent as it ever was, loud and proud, standing the test of time.
Watch as the foursome tackle New York City at the legendary Hammerstein Ballroom.
- Josephine Basch, OZY Author Contact Josephine Basch