My Bloody Valentine releases new album mbv stream it here! Plus Tour Dates!

Impressions of My Bloody Valentine’s ‘mbv’ #1

So on Saturday My Bloody Valentine surprised the world with news that they would be releasing a new album within hours, eventually they released it online at exactly 12am on Sunday morning. Their first new LP since the gaze bands defining record 1991’s Loveless. Shields may have claimed it would drop before the end of 2012, and at a show last week in a matter of mere days but still the perception remained that ever the perfectionist Shields could just be calling our bluff. But no here it was. Finally. The news created a frenzy online as eager expectant fans tried to get onto their site to buy their long awaited follow-up, it surprised even MBV, their site’s servers unable to cope with demand so much so that many gave up and got success the next morning.

mbv has divided critics, little wonder it takes longer than a few hours or days to digest a new album let alone one that has been expectantly hyped since the early 90s. The backlash started before the record arrived, thus we are going to present to you a range of first impressions as My Bloody Valentine were always a band that’s records grew on you over time, submerged you. Thus in the hope that we will give just a flavour of how different fans are feeling about actually hearing new noise from My Bloody Valentine once again, how they released the record and where they truly stand in the pantheon of influential shoegaze bands. First up Nick Fisk put together his own piece the day after the record’s release, it features his own thoughts and experiences of the evening when MBV surprised the internet.

“News of the imminent release of the new My Bloody Valentine album spread quickly on the internet, and thoughts of the day’s sports results, and shouldn’t I really be out on a Saturday night, quickly turned to, here is an event happening right here in front of me on my PC. Midnight came, and the album was supposed to be available, but instead, the site remained inaccessible, and rather than wait, I went to bed, resolving that getting hold of the album would be my first priority on waking up.

True to my word, I went straight to the new MBV site in the morning, and there it was. However, my first thought rather than to immediately pay to download it was – is it on youtube yet? Sure enough, it was – the band appeared to have put each track of the album on youtube at about 5am! Well, no doubt for around 5 hours a steady stream of cash, perhaps akin to an online poker site, must have poured into the mbv online account, and I did not feel too much guilt, with that being the case, about downloading each track via a youtube converter for my own consumption. I don’t suppose the band would have minded too much – if they hadn’t expected people to do this, wouldn’t they have just streamed the tracks so you couldn’t download them, rather than put them on youtube? – and they had made the audio of the youtube versions slightly inferior, perhaps with this in mind.

So anyway, to the important business: the album itself. I think the first thing to consider is the context of this release. Loveless, the band’s last album, released all the way back in 1991 was, sonically, an album that was quite unlike anything you had ever heard before. The whole story about the way it was recorded – the cost of it, the length of time it had taken, the fact it almost bankrupted Creation Records – was great, too. But the context was that it was released at a time when indie music was thriving. The NME was still a very well-read paper, John Peel was big, people were going out and buying indie records, whether it was the new one by the Pixies, The Family Cat, Carter, Teenage Fanclub, The Hinnies – whoever. It was a big scene, but it was still a bit of a closed scene. If you were not into the indie scene, at that time, you would have had very little interest in the new My Bloody Valentine album. But still, it was an album that created a bit of a stir.

The context of the release of mbv is that that scene is pretty much dead. The NME’s circulation has plummeted. There is no one DJ who people rely on for inspiration. People aren’t really buying music much. In my opinion, the biggest scene at the moment probably is the internet scene. This includes people who are into music, but it includes people who are into all sorts of things that they get excited about and share online. So I think the context of this release is that it definitely fits in with the current scene. The fact that it’s created such a big stir online is very fitting. And yet, perhaps the band are just about to blow things apart again. Due to the fact that just about everybody lives online, someone whose favourite song might be Gangnam Style is equally as likely to see a post about this album and want to be part of the hype as a cassette-playing C86 obsessive. And yet, they were all unaware that the safe world they had been living in was about to be torn apart again by My Bloody Valentine.

If Loveless sounded like nothing you’d ever heard before, then mbv sounds like nothing you’ve ever heard before, bar Loveless. The first reaction by any kids caught unaware will instantly be “What the fuck is that?” And you can’t fault that as a first reaction. This album is about as far removed from easy listening as you can get, perhaps difficult listening is the phrase.

I have to say that my first reaction, other than a kind of thrill that I was listening to new MBV material, was that I was slightly surprised at how similar-sounding to Loveless it was. I thought after 22 years there would be more of a change of direction. I’m not implying at all that I was disappointed, definitely not. But still, the first 3 tracks sound as if they could quite easily be out-takes from Loveless. There is the same, slow, lazy, guitar-driven haze of sound. The vocals are still as indecipherable as stereogram illusions. They are to me anyway – I have never seen anything in those feckin pattern things – maybe you will hear something in these vocals, but I’m not really sure if it matters – they are effectively like another instrument, another layer of sound, which is possibly the main intention.

About mid-way through the second track, Only Tomorrow, a riff comes in, and I imagine the sound of a million indie kids celebrating as they hear “a bit of tune” emerging from the tidal wave of endless subtle chord changes.

Track 3, Who Sees You, also has a kind of riff towards the end, sounding slightly like early Teenage Fanclub – I’m not making any kind of direct comparison, it’s really just that it’s a similar guitar sound.

When we get to tracks 4 and 5, there is a slight diversion. Now keyboards are to the fore. I assume it’s keyboards anyway. Every single sound on Loveless, whether it was the sound of a flute, or whatever, was supposed to be sampled guitar feedback, and it’s possible that’s what they’ve done this time, but whatever the actual effect is, I think it’s been programmed through a keyboard. The start to track 4, Is This And Yes (have to say, the titles of the tracks once again seem like little more than signifiers) actually sounds almost like the start to an old World of Twist b-side (the Barrett 200 mix of Sweets). Stereolab is a slightly lazier, more obvious reference. There is a nice bass effect resounding throughout.

Track 5, If I Am, again features (what I assume to be) keyboards, but with this one, the vocals are more prominent.

Track 6 is the closest thing on the album to a “song”. The first thing this reminded me of was Big City by Spacemen 3, to the extent that I even wonder if it’s been sampled for this one.

Track 7, In Another Way, with a seething drumbeat (is this possibly the “drum and bass” track we’ve been promised?), and orchestral type sounds, at the moment is my favourite track – I really can imagine classical music fans having an appreciation for this one. Very uplifting, but still, with added distortion, disturbing at the same time.

Track 8, Nothing Is, is the closest thing to a heavy metal track on the album. And let’s not forget that as MBV have a reputation for being very loud indeed when playing live, I’m sure they have a good few fans who are also into metal. This one – it’s just a looped guitar sound, sounding almost like a sample from Gimme All Your Lovin’ by ZZ Top, with an incessant beat – is also pretty awesome.

Which leads me to Track 9. I have to say that the concluding track, Wonder 2, is the only thing approaching a disappointment for me. I suppose it does work quite well as a conclusion, in that it is just a cacophony of sound – there’s something like a jet engine noise running through it, there are bits of the angelic type vocal, bits of keyboard, bits of everything. I suppose without being anything in particular, it does serve as a summary of what MBV are about – just the whole in-your-faceness of it. Just not sure if it works so effectively as a stand-alone track, as most of the others might. If it is someone holding up a scorecard at the end, it’s probably just a great big respectful blank sheet of paper.

I feel that mbv is possibly not as complex as Loveless, with perhaps not quite so many layers. I say it’s similar, but then again, the more I listen and become acquainted with it, if that’s possible, I’m not even sure if that’s correct. I think it’s true to say that it’s more like Loveless than Isn’t Anything, which would go against what Kevin Shields himself has said of it. So many contradictions. Suffice to say that anything I’ve said in this review, after just a few initial listens, is subject to drastic alteration on a few more listens! I wondered about not writing a traditional style review of this album at all, but instead perhaps cut-and-pasting a whole load of jumbled spam, or something! While being stylistic, I’m not sure this would have been the right response either though.

There is the question of how to listen to this album. Undoubtedly, at the maximum volume your ears will allow. Maybe while doing other things, like the hoovering perhaps, if you have it on your iPod. It is very good as background music – it’s so abstract that it allows you to concentrate on other things, whether it’s playing a game of poker or chess, reading a paper, going to the loo, driving. I think it would be great to have sex to (haven’t tried this out yet), although the only thing I wonder is that as no two people are ever going to have the same view of this album, you may end up quarrelling about the music, which might not be such a good thing. Perhaps you could listen to it while indulging in “solo sex”. Definitely, it would work as background music while you draw and paint, either abstract or formal art. It is definitely art itself, that almost goes without saying. It is magical, that also goes almost without saying. However much you might love it yourself, you know of course that it can also be used as a tool to annoy the hell out of someone else. Don’t stop listening to it, is one piece of advice I’d give, listen to it as often as you can, in as many different scenarios. Not sure about listening to it while getting stoned though – I don’t think you’d want to be listening to it too closely, as that really might fuck your head up.

One point I’ve considered is that if this is the sound of schizophrenia, it’s interesting that, however bizarre they might sound, My Bloody Valentine are almost the acceptable sound of schizophrenia, which is a slightly odd thing. And why is that, because they’re successful and have made money? Is it those things that make mental illness acceptable? Just being contentious now I think.

In essence, this album is a triumph. It’s caught people by surprise. Everyone knows the music industry is mostly in a bit of a mess. Sales are down, and what is selling is depressingly staid. Bands won’t try to replicate this album. But it serves as a very good reminder that you don’t have to do the corporate thing – why not be a bit more way out? We have a new My Bloody Valentine album. It’s something to embrace and cherish. I’m not sure if it’s ground-breaking in the way that Loveless was, but, and this is just going on a few listens, I think it is a pretty solid, but multi-lateral at the same time; despite being unique, all kinds of influences can be heard. Pleasingly, once again, it’s almost as loud as a nuclear bomb. It should be listened to a lot, and if you don’t mind, that’s what I’m going to go back to do now.”


What do you make of mbv? Send your impressions to [email protected]


God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.