My Bloody Valentine
Isn't Anything


5.0
classic

Review

by PSRB162026b USER (1 Reviews)
August 9th, 2015 | 21 replies


Release Date: 1988 | Tracklist


It seems cliche and unfair to bring Loveless into a discussion about Isn’t Anything, and yet, it’s practically inescapable. How do you talk about an album responsible for creating a genre without discussing its far more beloved successor - an album so huge and culturally significant that it has nearly completely overshadowed its predecessor (and just about every other album in the genre, for that matter). It makes sense, too. By contrast it’s easy to write-off Isn’t Anything as growing pains: it’s raw, messy - a thick wall of noise at times, generally all-over-the-place. You know what though? Despite its alien-landscape and spontaneity, it is, at its core, a deeply human album, expressing emotional experiences rather than impressions of the external world, twisting and mutating gorgeous melodies and vocals as it goes. It didn’t suddenly burst into existence either - for years Shields and co. had been toying with these sounds, always hinting at something with a little more substance on earlier EPs like Sunny Sundae Smile before transfiguring their sound into something more abstract and dreamy on their best EP, You Made Me Realise. It was only after that that they fully realized their sound on Isn’t Anything.

The best part is, Isn’t Anything unintentionally spawned ‘shoegaze.’ The band didn’t have a large budget (certainly nothing that comes remotely close to Loveless’), and they were pressed for time during writing/recording, but damn did they ever have a good time with it. Just pure creation for the fun of it, as opposed to trying to codify a nonexistent approach to a sound. And despite me calling it noisy and messy, there’s a surprising amount of variety on display. Songs like 'No More Sorry' are very frail, vulnerable moments in their discography - something very Dead-Can-Dance or Cocteau Twins-like on the surface, but yielding their own aesthetic identity. And then there’s the opener, Soft as Snow, a song featuring warped guitar and stop-start sections (the same can be said of other songs here) in a way that makes them subtly more emotional.

As I stated at the start of this review, it’s unfair to place this album alongside what the vast majority consider their magnum opus, but it’s contextually important to consider their differences and help see how they influenced artists for decades to come. Although the two albums sound worlds apart, if you listen closely you can tell how Isn’t Anything influenced the sounds of Loveless, but it’s far more than just a precursor to it. Don't get me wrong -that album sounds like a million bucks, all polished and textural, whereas this is very raw, gritty, their control constantly slipping away (gladly so, though, it seems). At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, It's more of a risk-taker, more in-step with reality in its lyrical themes and musical presentation. Life is messy, unpredictable, dramatic - not so unlike this album. And really, there’s nothing that sounds quite like it. In this way, the album title “Isn’t Anything” seems cleverly winking when you think about it. So for all those that haven’t heard the album that started it all, throw it on and play it loudly!



user ratings (1245)
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • jtswope (4.5)
    On their first studio album, My Bloody Valentine construct an immense wall of powerful but...

    derho (4.5)
    An overlooked gem that changed the shape of rock and noise...

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

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

  • Scott Herren (5)
    ...


Comments:Add a Comment 
PSRB162026b
August 7th 2015


47 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I responded to a comment made by a user on here earlier and basically just expanded what I said into a review. It was somewhat rushed and stream-of-consciousness because I have to head out of the city for a bit and really just wanted to post it. I might make some amendments afterwards and add an additional paragraph discussing some of the songs.

Parallels
August 9th 2015


8858 Comments


fuck yes, im so happy

great review

PSRB162026b
August 9th 2015


47 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Oh hey they got around to posting this.



Thank you. Glad to see there are other people as in love with this as me.

BigPleb
August 9th 2015


60612 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Album is amazing, as is this review!



Huge props man.

Gyromania
August 9th 2015


30077 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

great work

Gyromania
August 9th 2015


30077 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

" Hey @BigPleb, do you know what happened when a stranger gets fucked in the ass?"



wtf?

deathschool
August 9th 2015


25694 Comments


It's a reference to his avatar and the best movie ever

Gyromania
August 9th 2015


30077 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

is it the big lebowski? haven't seen it yet.

deathschool
August 9th 2015


25694 Comments


Great first review

PSRB162026b
August 9th 2015


47 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thank you.

IronGiant
August 9th 2015


1702 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

"The best part is, Isn’t Anything unintentionally spawned ‘shoegaze.’ "



Nah, Sonic Youth, Jesus & Mary Chain, and Cocteau Twins already were playing 'shoegaze' way before Isn't Anything (about 5 years before). MBV may have helped champion it to a more mainstream audience but they definitely did not "spawn" the genre.

PSRB162026b
August 9th 2015


47 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I think it's somewhat debatable

Ocean of Noise
August 9th 2015


10924 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Sonic Youth were a big influence on Shoegaze but they were more just kinda noise rock

Gyromania
August 9th 2015


30077 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i agree. They were mostly noise rock and Cocteau Twins were mostly dream-pop. both helped influence the sound of this, but they weren't shoegaze the way that this is.

IronGiant
August 9th 2015


1702 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Shoegaze is just Noise + Dream Pop tbh though

treeqt.
August 9th 2015


16968 Comments


yeah slowdive for example very noisy band

deathschool
August 9th 2015


25694 Comments


Dream pop and noise rock influenced the course of shoegaze a lot but shoegaze is not simply dream pop plus noise rock.

PSRB162026b
August 9th 2015


47 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I had a feeling people might fixate on definitions instead of discussing how great the album is. I might go back and edit it so it takes a more neutral stance on whether it started shoegaze or not, although such a task would require basically reworking the central thesis of the review.

huskerdoo
August 10th 2015


400 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

nice

Asdfp277
August 10th 2015


22614 Comments


very positive ! :]



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