22 years is a long time to go between albums. And, while it’s not as long as the silence Bill Fay broke last year, My Bloody Valentine has stayed in the public’s consciousness much more than Fay, and there’s been a low level anticipation for a new record pretty much since Loveless planted it’s flag. Kevin Shields and company never completely left, staying busy with soundtracks and solo work, and playing live on occasion, quietly teasing the prospect of new material. Unlike Guns n’ Roses, though, who also put a chasm of time between their last couple of releases, they were never explicit about what exactly the finished product would be. So while Axl spent years creating a legend around Chinese Democracy he could never fully live up to, Kevin Shields kept his head down, letting people know the band was working on material without creating an expectation for what that material would be. And now we know, following a Saturday evening release with no fanfare or advertising.
m b v is the third full length album from My Bloody Valentine, and fits very nicely in the continuum of their work. Opening with “she found now”, this album’s nine tracks build beautifully off their previous work. The songs on this album have an immediacy to them, a warmth that’s familiar and vibrant. The waves of distorted, fuzzed-out guitar is instantly recognizable as My Bloody Valentine. I hesitate to use the word mature, because it feels like it would imply this sounds like old musicians trying to copy what they did in younger days. That implication ignores how focused and mature their older work was, and how fresh this album sounds. The shoe-gaze style they play isn’t where current indie music is nowadays, and I’m relieved they haven’t tried to mimic current artists. Instead they’ve stayed admirably true to their style. Listening to them now, I’m more familiar with the music that came before, and so can appreciate the dreamy sixties pop within a track like “if i am”.
I’m not naive enough to declare this an album on the same level as Loveless yet, I’m really only putting down impressions after listening through the whole thing twice. I had years to let that other work breathe, and to hear new things on each subsequent play. Along with the music itself, that album has fingerprints from parties, road trips, and vacations all over it. I can taste gin and tonic when I listen to “To Here Knows When”, and this disc is too fresh for me to make bold declarations about it’s staying power. What I can say is that I’m glad to have a new disc from My Bloody Valentine, and I don’t see myself listening to anything else any time soon. It’s early days for 2013, but I can see this being on my end of year best of list, and ranking very high to boot. The album’s available from their website as an immediate download, or as a CD or on vinyl. After some difficulty when their servers were flooded with hits, I was able to order a copy, and download the album to listen to immediately, and I’m very glad I did.