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My Bloody Valentine's "mbv" reviewed

So twenty odd years later here comes the new My Bloody Valentine album, another Kevin Shields extravaganza not as far away from Loveless as we'd been lead to believe it would be but yes, closer to Isn't Anything at least part of the time. Not quite as accessible as Loveless. And as Shields himself compared it to Smile, let's just say it is no leap forwards or backwards, it is an album whose roiling guitars burying fuzz and feedback with melodies leaping out at you, is exactly what its fans had been hoping for. Some of the time, and the rest is looping walls of noise.

So maybe MBV greatest achievement is in it being the same some twenty years later. As if all the time passed was essentially for nothing but also nothing has been lost either. The very first song "She Found Now" is like having sex with a lawnmower one more time decades after you broke up and it is even better than you remember. This is shoegaze of the first order, the lyric so deeply embeded it sounds like moans but I think Kevin is singing "Come out and find now…" though I have no idea why. And The next song is a little louder, the guitars more strummable though the melody less indelible.

But it takes till the third song to sepearate the MBV fans from the mbv fans, a drum roll builds up some stamina for a couple vaguely out of tune guitars to circle round and round and round in concentric circles and here we get the point made fine, the vocals are almost in the way, the guitars are full on. And not until two thirds of the way through the album does the band come back to where the gift lies. Band? in the studio it is all Kevin with Bilinda Jayne Butcher adding her voice on the other stand out track, "new you", fabulous for the same reason and in the same way; it is like a trance pop of guitars and Butcher's voice, piped a touch higher than Kevin's, right on the melody all the way through.

It is certainly more fun than bound to be fan fave the interminable "in another way" and the viciously vapid  "nothing is"  drum and bass on a loop hammering its way through to your brain skulls. And no, I guess it isn't as good as Loveless, an album about half as good as you've heard it is, which probably makes it the best album of 1991. But it has the excitement and the frothing design of a major major release.

My Bloody Valentine are the third band of 2013 to drop new music with very little warning: five years after the band reformed, and two years after they toured behind Loveless, fans actually crashed their website in the rush to buy a digital copy Saturday night.  I can see why all the excitement, they really have a terrific sound, it is like having a sweet dream and a pounding headache at the same time, and with "she found now" the sound is the same but cleaner. It is better than anything but the best stuff they've done.

Look at Shields as a disturbed genius not a million miles away from a Brian Wilson or a Phil Spector: he derives meaning from orchestrated sound that seems to bury itself into your subconscious. And the truth is, though it took 22 years of manipulation, it sounds easy: it has the easy of someone doing something only they can.

Grade: B+

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