You need to ask yourself sometimes, when you are fortunate enough to be around for something like My Bloody Valentine releasing another album after what seems like as long it will take the average Rangers fan to have sex with someone that isn't their sister, if you are actually alive and not indeed dead, envisioning your ultimate samurai death fantasy before you fuck off to oblivion.
Personally, I like MBVs music. It has the ability to balance lovely nice tunes you would lie in bed and listen to trying to bat off a speed hangover on a Sunday and ferocious music that you would love to hop about to out your bin on the said speed. When they first popped up in the 80s they were a band heavily inspired by The Cramps/The Ramones. Now that isn't a bad combo in my opinion but their output was very ordinary, bar a song called 'Inferno'. But even that was iffy. Then they went a bit twee; Shields once remarked that the only band worth learning to play on the guitar were The Byrds. Somewhere around the late 80s the band released You Made Me Realise, their first on Creation, a sharp and succinctly brutal classic guitar assault that more or less got everyone’s attention. So blah blah they made Isn't Everything and Loveless (whose production nearly broke Creation Records) and then, as I can imagine after spending so long on Loveless, I think Kevin might have thought “I need a break”. He later joined Primal Scream and assisted them in accomplishing their flawless noise trilogy. Aside from remixes, producing the likes of J Mascis and his soundtrack work for Lost in Translation and Antoinette, he also provided heavenly music for Patti Smith on the Coral Sea album. I can remember in 1997 reading an interview with Kevin Shields and he commented that the new album was influenced by Jungle and after hearing the MBV remix of ‘If they Move, Kill ‘em’ I thought that it was going sound absolutely brilliant. But I never did hear it back then. An impressionable teen cheated out of an album he would have adored. Well, now I'm an old cunt, so let’s talk about this mythical album for real.
When you press play, you’ll know immediately that this album is not a hoax like the ‘hoover’ one that was doing the rounds. Present from the start are those sounds, returning like an old friend for anyone familiar with MBV: loops of bass, background guitar effects, a literal sea of sound. Drums are absent from opener ‘She found now’, and if anything it feels a lot like the final song of an album; downbeat, sad in its disposition. You can actually avoid all that vibe though, because anyone that cares about the band will listen to this and feel like a junky that finds a wrap of H in his back pocket. Remember Phil trashing his living-room in Eastenders looking for a crumb of crack? Well, imagine he found a bag! That’s what this shit is like to me! Shields croons over the guitars. Maybe I can hear Bilinda as well. It really is a beautiful song. You might read me say this a lot.
'Only Tomorrow' falls in with a swaggy drum beat, an acoustic rhythm, heavy bass and a downtuned, distorted-to-fuck guitar groaning so much you cannot help but feel that it is going to go berserk at any moment. Later on it does. It goes on some mad guitar solo and doesn't stop at the point you think it will. Then it’s back to normal with Bilinda singing; guitar solo comes back and goes on for ages. I nearly cried when I heard this. It was Sunday morning and I was hungover. Weans were up. I controlled my emotions. Then the 'Who sees you' opening riff came oota nowhere and I burst oot greeting like when I first seen the bells at the end of Breaking the Waves. Filthy fucking heavily FX laden guitars making sleazy, stretched-out riffs. This is the first example on the album of Shields’ “Glide Divine” sound, where he strums the guitar and holds the whammy bar while doing so. The bass and drums are low in the mix. All the guitars rule. I have no idea how he has made them sound like this. Maybe they are going backwards?
How long did I wait for this? ‘is this and yes’ is a five minute tune with five tracks of synths playing over each other. Bilinda hums n haws over it. In the background is a gentle tapping of drums. It's a bit of a break from the first three but after a while it grows on you. However, I'd definitely say it's the albums weakest point. ‘If I am’ comes in and sounds very much like something from the two previous LPs. It's a lazy, easy-going number with the token sounds going on. There’s nothing here really making me go daft, but it's nice all the same. Like salad. I don’t like it but I'll eat it. Maybe after such a monumentally great start, the downturn was bound to happen. I mean, there isn’t anything on this track or the previous one that strikes you as “special”. Initially I thought ‘New You’ might be another shiter but it ain’t. I like its loose vibe that sounds like the music Neighbours would use while aw the cunts played cricket in the street circa 1995. I should hate it, but it is dead nice and makes me wanna hold hands with someone pretty while we both chew our jaws aff on hi powered ectos. Then she tells me she likes the JAMC and Sam Peckinpah and wants me to take her up the road. That lovely. And that was always a huge draw for MBV: they made lovely music as well as brain-melting music.
'In Another Way' rolls in with a jungle drum beat that means only one thing: Shields was not kidding all those years ago! We have a stramash of guitars battling it out over the drum loop and a gentle-as-always vocal from Bilinda. It goes to this wonderful synth mental place, and just before you drift off it switches back to riff mad land. When I first heard this track I wasn't too sure about it. What did I not like about it? Well, I thought it sounded very amateurish. Dated. Then I thought ‘well it was probably made in 1995’ and after a few listens I came to the conclusion it was one of the best tracks on the album. There was always something funny about Kevin Shields’ brash tactics when deploying a song. It is really in your face, then he glitters it up with some enchanting vocals and you can't determine what kind of reaction the actual song is supposed to ignite. 'Nothing Is' is a bunch of garrulous loops that attack for 3:33. An avalanche of drums, bass and guitars. Album finale 'Wonder 2' comes in with any airy feel and a bunch of fx going off on one. It's good to hear Shields singing on this. It kind of sounds like two songs fighting with each other. Somewhere amid the wispiness, the guitar comes in and sounds really BIG. We can hear the jungle vibe here too. It's like Goldie Vs the JAMC. The whole track feels fragile, as if walking on thin ice until the massive riff comes in for a final time, cracks the ice and we all fall in to the cold winter lake forever.
If the immaculate conception of this album is rooted somewhere in the mid to late 90s, fuck knows why Kevin Shields abandoned it or decided to shelve it. Away from the tittle-tattle, this needn’t matter at all; his sound is still light years into the future, and even if the ‘MBV’ star is already dead, we can bask in its exothermic radiance plenty long enough to last us until the next transmission.
Posted: Fri 15 February 2013