Tuesday, February 5, 2013

My Bloody Valentine - mbv (2013)

How long have we been waiting? How long has Kevin's titillation tortured us? Is he a sadist? Is this album just a bottle to milk the old cash cow? or is it really as good as everyone on the internet seems to claim? Do you like a record just because you really want to like a record?

The first thing I want to mention, before people start calling me a blasphemous contrarian, is how I approached this album. Simply, I wanted it to be something other than it is, though I recognize that it could have been something far more disappointing. In the two decades since Loveless was released, the handful of Kevin Shields releases/remixes and mbv demos that have popped up here and there have been all over the place, stylistically speaking, but the one thing they all had in common was that they were moving towards a 'poppier' and fuller trajectory. mbv, however is mostly a sparse experimental record, comparatively. The tempo has slowed down, and the melodies are more sedated. Yet it's not necessarily quieter, but it's certainly not the bombardment of noise we've come to expect. Everything seems stripped down and many aspects seem lazy. The title of record, the album art, the song titles. The music itself, too, and a prime example of this is in "Nothing Is," which is makes Ravel's "Bolero" seem ichorous. It makes you wonder where the line between genius and desultory lies in the context of experimental music. I think the biggest problem of all that mbv suffers from is that the delicate balance between harmony and discordance has been disrupted. There is now discordance within this relationship and that seems to be what is lacking. 

There no doubt that there's beauty to be found in this record, but so far (three and a half listens in), I'm still not impressed. If Loveless was made on ecstasy, heroin and cheap wine this must have been made on xanax and IPAs. I was hoping for something truly progressive like Loveless +20 years of creative steeping, as I'm sure we all were, but sadly this has just been done before and been done way better (eg. back in 1991). Furthering my disappointment is that not one song on this record better than some of the post-Loveless unreleased demos. "Kevin Song" in particular may very well be my very favorite mbv track and I was hoping a mastered version would wind up on here or at least they'd take continue with more of that sound, but no. On a certain forum I heard someone refer to this as a "modern tragedy in 3 parts" and was calling it the album of the year/decade/etc. First of all, its a little too early for the latter claim, and secondly: no. I mean I'm prone to hyperbole as much as the next excitable fellow, but just... no. No.

All that being said, its an above-average album and far better than most of the dreck that gets hyped these days. It has a few songs I really enjoy, but it is nowhere near its mathematically flawlesss predecessor, which was a spiritual journey through the human condition. Who knows, maybe I'll change my mind after a few hundred more listens, but really it just seems like mbv-lite, and that's a shame since we've been waiting a long goddamn time.

Here is "Kevin Song" for those who haven't heard it (in my opinion one of the best pop songs ever recorded, even in the rough.)

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