Review Summary: Here they come now.
Modern Times Series: (Part 2)
Back in my review on My Bloody Valentine
, I mentioned that I never fully understood why the band is so beloved when I first listened to their first album in about 22 years, despite all the rapturous praises. Now, being enamored to the effect-heavy guitars and the astounding production of the genre known as shoegaze, and the fact that I declared MBV’s one-time label mate Slowdive
as one of my favorite bands, I decided to rediscover the Irish band’s self-titled album. After a full spin of the record, it made me realized (no pun intended) that My Bloody Valentine has created another modern-day masterpiece that is in the league of its own instead of following the footsteps of Loveless
, while further solidify the status that MBV as the leaders and elder statesmen of the shoegazing music.
For starters, this album still exhibits the signature of My Bloody Valentine at its most significant—the blurry, ethereal vocals of Bilinda Butcher and the fuzzy, syrupy guitars glides of Kevin Shields—without repeating the sound they have achieved in the past, as the songs are centred on a specific groove accompanied with the suitable soundscape. Take the stunningly subtle opener “She Found Now” as an example, as the “Sometimes”-recalled track began with the trance-inducing ambient-infused guitar crunches, followed by the hazy vocals of both Butcher and Shields that was mixed to the point where both vocalist’s voices are indistinguishable from the other, slowly forming a ghostly musical flame that burns brightly in the sky, illuminating a dark, uncertain future. Even the fact that “She Found Now” does not have grandstanding wallop of an opener like “Only Shallow”, it has the blurry tone that beautifully depicts the impressionistic picture of the struggle in the reluctance of embracing a new relationship or dissolving one that is on the verge of fracture(“You could be the one for me”), resulting an opener that is purely unforgettable in its own league. Furthermore, the band also creates more indelible moments, whether is it the crunching, shapeshifting psychedelia of “Only Tomorrow” that details the heartache of expressing the love for a crush(“Only tomorrow the love comes easy/What should I do, it's the only you”), the cryptic fever dream of “Who Sees You” about an unhealthy relationship(“How could it be that your love under stars/Know that you're nothing to me”), the drum and bass-laced euphoria of “New You” which ironically paints a melancholy portrait of a distanced relationship due to the partner’s change(“Too slow when the moon is with you/I’ll be too and wish you up with me to come soon”), the distorted quietness in “If I Am” that swirls the story of unhealthy obsession to a crush (“Wait, cause I need today or tomorrow/Curl into you for how I lust you will come to sorrow”), or the fluttering blast in “In Another Way” that pictures a breakup and its aftermath(“Deep inside, you and I sitting on the side/Close tonight we’ll be inside on the other way, on the other side”), the band never ceased to create intriguing moments that is still eerily relatable in terms of our romantic relationships, without ever disposing their sonic hallmarks. You may think a 22 years of hiatus after their previous album would make the band or, in this case, the creative leader being tempted to create a substandard effort in order to fulfil the ears of newer audience. However, that is not really the case, as this album still preserves the bleary beauty and guitar wizardry that the band beloved for, with the band still reserved a space of innovation, and thus create one album that sounds modern, yet still sound classic MBV.
Even they were able to perfect their signature sound with a touch of innovation in the album, that doesn’t mean they would not explore other territories as well. The dizzying, triumphant closer that is “Wonder 2”, where all four members would play guitars in live shows and leaving jungle music beats as the central groove, is such an example. With both vocalists cooed together into an androgynous blend of voice, the flashing guitars were riding on the airy breakbeats, only to let the vocals blast into a waving, twisted guitars interlude, and squealing guitar feedbacks and swirling guitar aerobics guiding the song to the end. It’s unlike anything they have created, yet at the same time, the melodic noise wizardry in the song still gives it a sonic stamp of the band, sealing this song as one of the band's most unique tune. On the other hand, there is the electronica ambient beauty in the track that is “Is This And Yes” which is oddly reminiscent to Brian Eno’s ambient masterpieces, with the crystalline synthesizers coated throughout the song, only Butcher sang the word “again” repeatedly, adding an otherworldly calmness in the otherwise noisy album. In a nutshell, this album also serves as the band’s most experimental moment, exploring beyond their psychedelic rock and post-punk roots, creating one album that is also pleasantly surprising.
The only problem is that this album occasionally lacked the hooks that partially makes Loveless
an indelible masterpiece, and the fact that this album also suffered a filler track that is “Nothing Is”, where it only contains a repeating loop of sliding guitars and pummeling drums, and that there are no vocals at all in the song, which degrades the cohesiveness of the album. However, those flaws were not enough to prevent this album to be another great effort in the shoegazing godparents’ already peerless discography, thanks to in part that the band still captured the foggy beauty as they did in their first run through their signature swirling guitars, misty productions, cloudy vocals, and the accompanied riveting rhythm sections, and the fact that much of the album sounds contemporary through the band’s use of simplistic impressionism, resulting an album that is darker and less accessible to many. Don’t expect listening to a Loveless 2.0
though, since this album showcased the stunning beauty through its impressionistic and more fractured representations that not all fans would understand, and that it sounds slightly underwhelming given it is released about 22 years(!) after its predecessor, not to mention that this album is a mixture of the fragmented recordings from the 1990s and the additional parts of the 2000s and 2010s. However, the long-time interval is somehow also the reason why this already great album still sounds staggering, as it still sounds as timeless as their most famous works. If Isn’t Anything
is a sonic equivalent to an druggy, intimate sexual intercourse, Loveless
is that to the subsequent sex and substance-driven romantic relationship that is both ecstatic and tumultuous, then mbv
is the dissociation of the relationship and its aftermath, with the two lovers decided to live on their lives after parting ways, as both of them found solace and beauty in their new post-breakup life.
Personal Rating:4.71 / 5
She Found Now
Who Sees You