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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Is band My Bloody Valentine Loveless?

Late 80's band returns to try to regain reputation of innovation

Published: March 28, 2008
Section: Arts, Etc.

diverse-city-3-28-08_final_page_3_image_0001.jpg So a few months ago, the music community was treated to a bizarre, oft-rumored, but completely unexpected announcement. My Bloody Valentine (MBV) was getting back together for a new album and a new tour.

Of course, this shouldn’t be seen as a huge surprise, given the great many independent and alternative acts from the late ’80s and early ’90s reuniting these days, perhaps in an attempt to cash in on the success of younger waves of rock acts that they influenced.

That being said, of all the likely bands to do this, My Bloody Valentine was nowhere near the top of the list. The act’s mastermind, Kevin Shields, is notoriously deliberate and had been keeping himself busy without the band. My Bloody Valentine had only released two full length albums at the time of their demise, and despite its revolutionary style and sound, MBV-imitators in the so-called “shoegaze” movement quickly petered out. So why here? Why now?

Why not? Of all the shoegazing and post-rock bands that have made their mark on the music scene, My Bloody Valentine was the first. They were pioneers in using distortion, feedback, and other effects in a crushing wall of sound to create the immense texture and feel in their music. Kevin Shields and Belinda Butcher, the two guitarists, were adept at creating a swirling, jagged mess of sound that was both beautiful and dynamic. Between the urgent rush of songs like “Only Shallow” or “You’re Still in a Dream” and the quiet grandeur of “Sometimes,” the band displayed a dexterity many similar bands could never attain. At what they did, they were simply the best.

It has been sixteen years since MBV’s best and last album came out. Loveless is still considered to be one of the classic indie rock albums, and it deserves such an acclaim. There really isn’t any record that sounds like it out there. MBV maintains their brilliant sonic qualities throughout, but are able to move from quick, epic stomps like “Come in Alone” to much more subtle tracks. There really isn’t much to say about Loveless, other than if you haven’t heard it, you’re missing out.

But why is My Bloody Valentine returning? Sixteen years is a long time. Can the band recapture the glory of Loveless? I don’t think it can. I also don’t think it wants to. MBV was always a band of experimentation. On both Isn’t Anything and Loveless, they were constantly innovating new ways to play the guitar, and new contexts in which to use their sound. So my guess is the new MBV album will not sound like Loveless. It’ll sound different, and deliberately so. And that’s why the band’s reuniting is more exciting than most of the others. We’re not expecting a rehash of old hits. We’re going to get the rare experience of hearing something new.