Today’s Sounds: My Bloody Valentine

Assessing the comeback of comebacks, My Bloody Valentine’s follow-up to Loveless, 22 years on. PLUS a new track by Melody’s Echo Chamber and a video set in a schoolboy’s fantasy, by Tame Impala.


My Bloody Valentine, mbv (independent)

It’s tempting to frame the return of these godfathers of shoegazing as a schooling session for all the young bands who’ve been dropping their name for the past half-decade, tapping into that relatively contemporary wall of sound with inevitably mixed results. The problem is that there’s little here that music-miners and re-construction crews haven’t already learned from the band’s classic 1991 album, Loveless.

That said, Kevin Shields, Bilinda Butcher, Debbie Googe and Colm O’Ciosoig have achieved something greater than leading a lesson in noise production and astral guitar effects: they’ve returned after 22 years, on a wave of media attention and nervous anticipation, to deliver a record that’s satisfyingly similar to their early ’90s sound with enough energy and sonic surprises (verging on pranksterism in places) to walk that fine line between masterful execution and regurgitated schtick without falling.

The sudden, independent record release — just before midnight on Saturday, Greenwich Mean Time — also does great things for their cause. They haven’t taken the PWYC approach that Radiohead did (they’re charging $16 for a mere digital download), but they did manage to “break the Internet” with massive numbers of fans (and probably a fair share of rubberneckers) piling onto their new site to join in on the global listening session that happened when most adults would/should have been out partying. (I tuned in late, post-Sunday-morning recovery.)

Anyone who even casually digs that trademark shoegaze sound will have a hard time rejecting the seduction that sets with the first strains of “She Found Now,” wherein skewed guitars, meek vocals and deep fuzz drapery fan out and roll into “Only Tomorrow” and “Who Sees You” like natural phenomena.

The status quo is sporadically upended by sudden stops and sharp shifts, as in the case of stripped-down synth track “Is This and Yes,” which sounds like rote Stereolab rather than rote MBV, until Butcher’s featherweight coo comes into play. The rubbery “New You” continues to veer away from normal while “In Another Way” and “Nothing Is” push the noise quotient in discordant directions. And with “Wonder 2,” we’re back to whooshing jet engines and the voice of Shields, breathing hot, heavy breath into your ears till your legs give out.

It’s not Loveless, but it is ageless, and nothing if not an impressive accomplishment.


Melody’s Echo Chamber, “Je Me Perds de Vue”

This is the B-side of “Crystallized,” a single by the Parisian chanteuse-songwriter operating under the name Melody’s Echo Chamber. Her eponymous record, co-produced by Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker, was released by Fat Possum in the fall.



Tame Impala, “Mind Mischief”

Watch this track from the Oz band’s stellar record Lonerism come to life as a psychedelic schoolboy fantasy, as directed by David Wilson. Tame Impala play Metropolis March 11.

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