‘mbv’ proves to be worth the wait

‘mbv’ proves to be worth the wait

Joey Crown, Roar music critic

There was an odd feeling running through me as I began listening to My Bloody Valentine’s new album “mbv,” a feeling of anticipation and skepticism. After all, the last time My Bloody Valentine released an album was more than 21 years ago, and that was the release of their most celebrated work “Loveless.” That album was treated as a swan song,  for the band as the front-man Kevin Shields faded away into music history. There had been talk of a new album for years and rumors surrounding its release. Speculation ran wild but was silenced with an announcement from Shields that the album would officially be released by the end of 2012. That year came and went and it wasn’t until early February that “mbv” was officially released to rabid fans eagerly waiting to hear what 21 years of work sounds like.

This is an album that deserves context considering My Bloody Valentine’s last album “Loveless” was named one of the best album of the 90s by a countless publications and helped put the dream-like noise genre of “shoegaze” on the map. “mbv” was released to a miasma of hype and skepticism, with two general schools of thought that the album would not be able to live up to the masterpiece that is “Loveless” or that it would be crowned album of the decade instantly.

“mbv” is an album that hits you as soon as it starts, it wastes no time to instantly put you into a haze of a dream-like feeling. There are so many layers in the opening track “she found now” that it requires your full attention to really become entranced by the sound produced in this album. I instantly fell in love with this album even though this opening would not be the most recognizable part of the album.

As the album progresses through the first three songs, the idea struck me that for 21 years of progress it still sounds so much like My Bloody Valentine’s old work, albeit a much more noisy version of their work, but I expected an adaptation of modern techniques. The songs “is this and yes” and “if i am” changed my perspective as the album shifted to a much more mellow tone, utilizing synthesizers to create some mesmerizing melodies and soft spoken hums of the vocalist Bilinda Butcher. But even as the album takes a mellow turn, it provides transition to a new experimental sound for the group.

The final third of this album begins with “in another way” with a frantic drum beat that becomes instantly recognizable and rushes right into a jungle of sounds with distorted guitars and a constant building of sound. It’s fascinating and puzzling at the same time to think about how some of these sounds are made. Kevin Shields does things with guitars that impresses the most veteran of players, a technique that remains shrouded in mystery as to how he produces most of his sounds. The album ends with “wonder 2” and goes out with bang with a huge evolving sound that engulfs the senses and creates a sound unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. This is the perfect conclusion to this album as it is so beautifully unique and fitting to the style of My Bloody Valentine.

My skepticism had faded as soon as this album began, and while it doesn’t sound like 21 years of work, it doesn’t need to because this album wasn’t meant to. My Bloody Valentine is not a group of grandeur, but a group of musicians who are making music that redefines what noise is, and this noise is meant to reflect, not blow minds. While fans of the band likely will fall in love with “mvb,” newcomers may be put off by it. I don’t recommend this to be the first album by My Bloody Valentine to listen too, that would be “Loveless.” If you fall in love with the dream-like hazy sound that album has to offer, then this album offers the extremist end of that sound and delivers it in the best way possible.