Review Summary: Isn't Anything inspired a legion of imitators. One can see why, both in the strengths and weaknesses of this spotty debut. A curio for history's sake, to be seen eternally as the little brother of Loveless, and this is how it should be.
Let me get it out of the way: this really is just a precursor to Loveless. It has only hints of what would make MBV great. The production is much too dry, and there's a lot less noise than I could do with. Most songs are too skeletal to please fans like me who prefer their lusher arrangements. The drum sound is pretty awful, and the vocals stand out too much for a shoegaze album. But really, this is still Loveless-lite, so it's still fine.
To begin, the funky/ noisy 'Soft As Snow' has swirls of wonderful noise and Belinda croons, but the arrangement is too stark at most points, with the guitars pushed down and the drums and bass leading. Rather strange for shoegaze, especially since the drums are just nauseating. Kevin's lyrics are a little too overt here, as well. "Can I touch you there?" is just a silly, furtive little line that seems out of place.
'Lose My Breath' is definitely more of Loveless caliber, with Belinda beauty by the basketful and the throbbing sensuality of pulsing drums and guitar washes. However, again the verses are too dry, with little in the way of arrangement or lush sound. I can't stress enough that the occasional moments of beauty within each song is what makes this album worthwhile; it just can't maintain the consistency of Loveless.
'Cupid Come' again has a nauseating drum sound, quite unpleasant, lumbering and clumsy. The guitar parts are at times a whirlpool of beauty, but mostly unremarkable strumming more in tune with earlier, less talented MBV. The final swath of buzzing guitar really does have a great pull, but it plies white noise as a vice where Loveless would later use evocative samples and glide guitar in a dense haze. Again, embryonic in its approach, certainly one can tell it is pre-Loveless.
'You're Still In A Dream' is perhaps the first consistent song here, with a great lead guitar part and vocal textures during the verses that put the song halfway between dreamy bliss and blistering rock. The drums are less obtrusive, the verses are better arranged in the iconic MBV style, and everything coheres better here than on previous songs. It rocks and squalls pretty noise in equal measure, an impressive feat here.
'No More Sorry' fashions a story song about an abused woman into a shimmering soundscape of throbbing, orchestral, turbulent guitar sound. Not as much of a song as most, but certainly indicative of what they would soon accomplish in the coming years.
'All I Need' is another strong number, waves of droning noise and vocal accentuations eventually bleeding into a delirious, warped sort of calliope-style guitar pool.
Though 'Feed Me With Your Kiss' rocks hard, it isn't as blissfully crushing and sick as its cousin 'You Made Me Realize'. Its waves of pummelling guitars are pretty nifty though, even if they get pushed down too much to bring out the vocals in the verses. A fine track, really.
'Sueisfine' mutates into suicide. A lovely rocker sometimes, but the bass is too heavy and dark, and the drums, again, suck. A marred gem.
The rest? Just the same. All commendable efforts, but just not enough for me. There's just no stressing it enough; Loveless is far superior to this album and most others. This is a curiosity to be enjoyed from time to time. An inconsistent album with many highlights amid myriad flaws.