My Bloody Valentine
Isn't Anything


4.5
superb

Review

by derho USER (31 Reviews)
November 20th, 2012 | 22 replies


Release Date: 1988 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An overlooked gem that changed the shape of rock and noise

To me, this record is just fascinating as My Bloody Valentine's legendary 1991 magnum opus, Loveless. Released in 1988, Isn't Anything gives me about a million things to talk about. While you can hear the roots of the so-called "shoegaze" sound in noisy efforts throughout the 80's, this is where it all officially starts. This is the album that about a million bands (most crap, some great) ripped off. I would argue that its influence overshadows that of Loveless. One major reason, among others, is that Isn't Anything provides a vision of a band that is human, making human music on earth, while Loveless seems like more of an object that just materialized from another world. In some ways, this makes Isn't Anything more rewarding. You know, for us humans.

You can hear Kevin Shield's obsession with the mechanics of sound even in the way he constructs an album. As you progress through Isn't Anything, it almost feels like an ever-changing wave, rolling up and down, harmony and disharmony. An almost mechanical snare beat, coupled with a quasi-funky bassline, introduces "Soft As Snow (But Warm Inside)", and from the outset, we hear that something is a little odd. It's those flourishes of off-putting guitar. The next track, "Lose My Breath," is a bit of a slow pop beauty, but the melody has to be dug out from below cavernous reverberations. "Cupid Come" picks up the pace a little bit, and that's when the mind-bending begins. The track ends with an explosion of noise and fades right into the terrifying "No More Sorry," which shifts dramatically between out of a barrage of syncopated drum rolls and fuzz and deafeningly powerful silences. And if you were lost in the wonder then, just wait for what comes next.

When "All I Need" hits, the only thing keeping everything from falling apart is the consistent one-two punch of the drums, which themselves almost get lost in the haze. Four minutes of earth-shaking madness pass, and you're sent roaring back to reality with "Feed Me With Your Kiss". Unfortunately you're in the middle of a hurricane. Shoegaze as a whole is chock full of innuendo, but nowhere does it get quite this blatant, and feral, exaggerated by the Thurston Moore/Kim Gordon type girl-boy dynamic. This could have been a track from Daydream Nation, which came out the same year.

As the album progresses, the battle between sweetness and noise becomes more and more pronounces and ferocious, particularly on the wonderful "You Never Should", where Colm O Clois' drums for the first time begin to lose control themselves, only to fall back into one of the tightest beats on the album. "Sueisfine" is a creepy punker that comes almost to the point of actually having a message (gasp!), and "I Can See It (But I Can't Feel It)" feels like a tribute (not to mention a worthy one) to the Velvet Underground circa their 3rd album.

Overall, Isn't Anything succeeds where many of its followers fail in never dragging or slowing down enough to lose our interest. That being said, without the overwhelming beauty and groundbreaking sound design of Loveless, its harder to ignore that very late 80's-early 90's feeling of, well, I don't want to say navel-gazing... let's go with self-indulgence. But really, this is a great record. Must listen.

9.5/10



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user ratings (741)
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other reviews of this album
Justin Swope (4.5)
On their first studio album, My Bloody Valentine construct an immense wall of powerful but sweet noi...

altron2095 (3)
Isn't Anything inspired a legion of imitators. One can see why, both in the strengths and weaknesses...

Neoteric (4)
It's haunting, it's dissonant and sometimes inaccessible but what the hell? Catchy hooks? Pop melod...

Scott Herren (5)
...


Comments:Add a Comment 
foxblood
November 20th 2012


6797 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

pos pos pos. rating is too low my friend

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
November 20th 2012


50587 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Sweet

Digging: Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels 2

derho
November 20th 2012


307 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

see last paragraph for my explanation. Maybe it's just me. Still a wonderful album, like I said.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
November 20th 2012


7363 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Review's pretty well written, but you'd be better off abandoning the track by track format. In continuous pieces like this it's really dull to read.

I've never really gotten into this record, I should probably dig it out sometime soon. I disagree with what you say about it being the origin of shoegaze, though. To me The Jesus And Mary Chain were the genre's big bang moment, although Loveless later defined it.

tarkus
November 20th 2012


5560 Comments


jamc> agreed

derho
November 20th 2012


307 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah wasn't sure about the track by track thing but the flow of it always strikes me.

And yeah as you see I mentioned the mary chain in my recommended albums. Like I said, you can hear Shoegaze-y sounds before MBV, but they were the origin of the moniker itself, and Shoegaze is a little more dreamy and vague than Mary Chain/dinosaur jr./husker du stuff. It's all very confusing and up for debate.

foxblood
November 20th 2012


6797 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

well Jesus And Mary Chain are obviously the band that created the foundations for the genre, but psychocandy isn't really
a shoegaze record. this took the innovations psychocandy made and created the genre, this is the record every following
shoegaze band emulated, not psychocandy

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
November 20th 2012


7363 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I think it depends what you deem to be 'shoegaze.' Darklands is my favourite JAMC record, and I'd personally say it has far more of a 'shoegazing' feel than this. The term itself originated in the early '80s with groups such as the Cocteau Twins and The Smiths as well as the JAMC, as far as I'm aware. Nowadays most people simply seem to class shoegaze as music which sounds like Loveless.

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
November 20th 2012


50587 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Smashing Pumkins invented shoegaze
Damn u guys r dum

derho
November 20th 2012


307 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Love Darklands. Some great pop stuff on there. I think it's a bit of a waste of time to discuss the origins of the term. The bands themselves have been known to despise it anyway.

tarkus
November 20th 2012


5560 Comments


darklands yeah

WashboardSuds
November 20th 2012


5025 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yea album is badass

Ire
November 20th 2012


41803 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

been too busy jammin' cocteau sup

WashboardSuds
November 20th 2012


5025 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

favorite cocteau album?

Ire
November 20th 2012


41803 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

victorialand so far

WashboardSuds
November 20th 2012


5025 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

probably Treasure for me. HOLV also rules

Ire
November 20th 2012


41803 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

cocteau ruled yeaa

demigod!
November 20th 2012


44727 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

albums great yea but Loveless is a million times better.

Digging: Weezer - Everything Will Be Alright in the End

Ire
November 20th 2012


41803 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

agreed

SCREAMorphine
November 21st 2012


1758 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Love this album, pos



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