Review Summary: re-submit
Throughout the past 17 years, much noise has been made about the ridiculous amount of time and money Kevin Shields put into creating My Bloody Valentine’s masterpiece, Loveless. Whether or not the tales of label-bankruptcy and years of meticulous song-crafting and studio work are exaggerated, it still proves a striking example of the benefits of hard-work.
Perhaps the lesson stands even stronger when compared to some of the band’s contemporaries: Untouched, for example, is the 1992 debut full-length from Secret Shine, another group of UK shoegazers. Everything from the cover art, to the album’s title; the guitar sound, to blissful moans of singer Jamie Gingell are textbook shoegaze, and, moreover, owe a large debt to Shields’ own work. The thing is, Untouched is far from the creative, emotional experience that Loveless was, which begs for the connection: ‘If Kevin Shields hadn’t spent so much damn time in the studio, Loveless probably would’ve sounded a lot like Untouched.’
And it’s not all that far off of a statement. While I’m certain Secret Shine didn’t throw together their album in a few days, the resounding lack of originality, the inferior production and the less-than-incredible songwriting the band put forth don’t exactly scream “this is a benchmark for Alternative and Indie music we spent years making.” Perhaps the comparison is uncalled for, but the obvious influence is hard not to bring attention to, and where other post-Loveless shoegaze albums generally add new components to the sound or at least hide the really obvious influences, Untouched remains steeped in unoriginality.
The best songs on Untouched are able to use an old formula to create something that is, at the very least, memorable. Into The Ether, for instance, is a culmination of all things good in the late 80’s/early 90’s dream pop scenes. Slathered in thick guitar fuzz, the song makes use of simple acoustic chords, a thudding drum beat and ethereal male and female vocals to craft one of the album’s strongest hooks. In this way, it is as comparable to RIDE or Slowdive as it is to Shields and MBV. A step towards originality" Hardly, but it offers a welcome break, and is far and away the best track on the album. Elsewhere, album opener Suck Me Down features idyllic verses that give way to huge crashing choruses, layered with reverb and cranked to ten. Nick Dyte’s drums, on this song especially, give the album an extremely tangible edge. Where Colm O'Ciosoig’s drums on Loveless seem devoid of any real intensity, Dyte’s are much more energetic and emotional. In some places, this can ruin the sound the band is striving for, but it works perfectly on Suck Me Down, and as a result, the song’s chorus is one of the few moments on the album where the band are successful in breaking apart from the pack. Unfortunately there’s just not a whole lot else to get excited about here.