It’s not unusual for artists to take a break between projects, especially those studious ones obsessed with perfecting their art. Bowie has just returned after a ten year hiatus. The wonderful Scott Walker is notorious for Kubrickian interludes between albums. Then there were the likes of New Order and Portishead, who buggered around for a decade before resuming output. But there are no musical artists quite in the league of Irish band My Bloody Valentine, whom we last heard of in 1991. That’s right, my girlfriend wasn’t even born when they last released an album, the fantastic Loveless.
For all the plebs who know nothing about this wonderful band, My Bloody Valentine sound like nobody else on the planet. Essentially, they make a form of ambient music with ridiculously loud guitars and strangely soft, indecipherable vocals. It is overwhelming, Wagnerian, beautiful, and meant to be played with the volume at 11. And 21 years later, they still sound like the future.
The new album, m b v, it has to be said, sounds relatively similar to Loveless, especially on the earlier tracks. It is only later in the album that the band start to vary from that formula, with success. The song New You lays off the heavy for a bit and almost sounds like an intelligible pop song. It then gives way to In Another Way, the album’s best track, a sonic cathedral which sucks you inside with sheer decibelic power before tickling you with its subtle melodies and demisemitonal modulations. It’s not a giant leap from 21 years before, but it still sounds fresh – like nothing else being released today. Nothing Is is the most impenetrable track – it sounds like a stuck CD player, but gradually you hear the background rhythms power through.
Critics are giving the new album five star reviews, and I don’t blame them, not because My Bloody Valentine have released anything too divergent from what they were doing a generation ago, but because that blueprint still sounds fresh, vital and amazing all these years later. If you’re sick of hipster indie pop and all it represents in 2013, m b v is the antidote. Download it, feed it through some big freakin’ speakers, dim the lights and crank it up. It’ll blow your mind 😉