To say the wait for a new album by My Bloody Valentine felt like two insanely long decades would not be an understatement; in fact, that’s exactly how long it took the shoegaze originators to birth MBV. Just before midnight, on February 2nd, the band shocked fans worldwide by spontaneously releasing the album online as well as a free streaming version on YouTube. It was one of those, “I remember where I was when…” moments that catalyzed those us who grew up in the ’90s to both shatter Twitter with our enthusiasm and/or cause the band’s site to crash with overwhelming demand.
But what of the album, you say? Well, if you haven’t heard it yet, you’ll be pleased to know it sounds exactly like a My Bloody Valentine album in three acts. The first three tracks pick up where 1991’s Loveless left off. There’s the classic harmonic dissonance layered into the band’s trademark obsidian guitar drone. Kevin Shields and Belinda Butcher continue to blend their voices into a static lullaby, and there’s just the right touch of guitar reverie to suit indie kids and stoic worshippers of The xx alike.
And then everything starts to change. With “Is This and Yes”, the guitars disappear and are replaced with a church organ. Butcher’s voice emerges like a lonely mermaid floating around a space grotto, and we’re somewhere in between Twin Peaks and butterfly funeral territory. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, it’s just the band giving your ear drums a little breather before taking you on a slow yet snappy stroll through a languid dreamscape of lilting melodies and bouncy bass beats before plunging your soul into utter sonic annihilation.
Not wanting to disappoint their hardcore fans, the ones who brazenly refused to wear earplugs during their admittedly louder-than-loud last tour, MBV takes listeners somewhere totally new at the end of the album. “In Another Way” plays with keyboard melodies and staccato beats all upheld by a mad banshee wail. It’s one of my favorite songs on the album and marks My Bloody Valentine’s first ever dance party. Yes, dance party.
The last song on the album, “Wonder 2”, descends (ascends?) into a thumping drum and bass-ish serenade that sees their fuzzy guitar sound rocket towards a new galaxy. It’s rare for a band to start an album off light and end with layers of weird, speedy cacophony. But this is the new My Bloody Valentine, they’ve waited twenty years to conjure magic, and they can do whatever they bloody well want.
Stream the entire album here.