Review Summary: It's haunting, it's dissonant and sometimes inaccessible but what the hell? Catchy hooks? Pop melodies? This is MBV's debut album and though it doesn't compare to Loveless, it still stands well on it's own.
My Bloody Valentine’s Isn’t Anything came right around the shoegaze trend and became one of the leading albums in the genre (for it’s time anyway). This is the bands first album and it’s a release to break away from the band continually releasing EP’s. Though this isn’t considered as good as the classic Loveless, it still holds up well on it’s own. For those who don’t know who My Bloody Valentine are, they are a shoegaze/dream pop band from Ireland who are best known for their guitar distortion, sparingly used reverb and tremolo. Isn’t Anything is full of dream pop touches, grungy guitar tracks and noisy pop hooks. This what makes this album and it is an intensifying listen.
The band is centered around a man called Kevin Shields who is probably the main songwriter in the band, the band are adequate musicians as well. Mostly down to their creativity. The vocals are very low in the mix but you can still hear them clearly (though you can’t really hear the lyrics). Kevin doesn’t really seem like a singer but he suits the noisy peppy atmosphere of the songs. But who can blame him, as Blinda Butcher takes a role in the vocals. She has a very beautiful smooth voice and she suits better in the darker, more slower songs (example: Lose My Breath
). Again, you can’t make out the lyrics but it’s in good interpretation. Kevin and Blinda’s dueling guitar sounds are great, whether one is playing chords while the other ones makes creative noisy parts, it’s all great. Their sound is so smooth together but I guess it’s Kevin who takes the role in making the more creative parts as his set-up is a lot larger than Blinda’s. The bass is really audible and along with the guitar playing the chords, keeps the music from sounding like, basically, noise. Colm is a good drummer, he doesn’t use a lot of range with his instrument but he is still impressive in a lot of places. I love his drumming in Cupid Come
mostly because his beats are so simple but they really help the song out. So yeah, great musicians, perfect for this type of band.
Now, I can’t make out the lyrics and I really don’t know the right lyrics are as the band have never released their lyrics but from their main site I can see interpretations of the songs. Now, from what I can see, none of the songs have a straight forward meaning, as you don’t really know if they are dousing in metaphors or not. There is also not a lot of lyrics as the band repeat their hooks and such. It’s a bitch to really learn what the songs are about, take this passage from Soft As Snow (But Warm Inside)
, “Soft as snow and warm inside, penetrate then we divide, slip away forever, (do we) need you.” You can’t understand what it means and I think it’s better that way. I always feel when you listen to a song and you interpret yourself and then you find out the meaning of the song, it kind of ruins it so I’m glad that they’ve did this. Good lyrics, they seem very deep and meaningful without actually coming out and telling us what it’s about.
A lot of the tracks on here are worth a mention but the one what grabbed me first and shook me about was Lose My Breath
, the same acoustic guitar part is repeated throughout the song and it feels like the world is ending. I don’t know if anyone else has noticed but with the acoustic guitar, the sound seems to get louder and softer but only slightly. What really makes the song though is Blinda’s daunting vocals and the plush “ooohh”s that infect what is seen as a chorus. It’s a dark song that’s poured with pop sensibilities. The album opener Soft As Snow (But Warm Inside)
really put me off when I first listened to it but I’ve grown to love it now, it seems the exact opposite of “catchy” with the constant screeching guitar effects. Cupid Come
is probably one of the most accessible songs on the album, it’s a dreamy pop song and Kevin really pulls his vocals off during it. The light distorted chords are a real taker and it has such a good hook. Highly contagious this song is. Of course, the last of the songs I want to discuss is a track I just recently got into. No More Sorry
is a song built around atmosphere with it’s no chord, no drums approach. It is just samples throughout with Blinda slowly singing over it. The samples, are simply haunting and Blinda really puts that simple touch to it. Every track is worth a listen really though some are good and not great.
I really liked the way the album sounded like. It’s haunting but at the same time catchy and littered with pop hooks. It flows very well as the songs don’t seem that too far apart but they sound completely different from each other. Weird eh? Well I guess all of them contain what makes a My Bloody Valentine song and that’s all I ask for. At the end of the album, the quality dropped quite a lot which is a shame. The end songs aren’t bad though, I still like listening to them but compared to the first half of the album, it fails to appear superior. Kevin and Blinda work really well together here, without one another it probably wouldn’t work. As a MBV song without a backing or some extent of noise is quite put it, lame so I’m glad there is a team of guitarists. And though it doesn’t seem important, I quite like the album’s cover and booklet. I couldn’t understand what the cover was until I looked closer. A picture of three people (I don’t know if it’s the band or not) close up to the camera blinded with dissonant light. It’s quite spectacular in a sense that you need to concentrate on it to find out what it is.
Anyway, enough with the rambling, onto what rounds the album up. This is a haunting, dissonant record besieged with sweet noise pop exterior, does that sound appealing? It better be as this is one excellent album even if it drags off in the end. This might not be a good introduction to the band (Loveless takes that throne) but it will appeal to people of the shoegaze genre and general My Bloody Valentine fans. Just one word of warning, a lot of people who I’ve talked to about the album have said they found this album dull after listening to Loveless and that maybe the case to some people, but not to me. Over and out.