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My Bloody Valentine – Loveless

February 14, 2010

My Bloody Valentine - Loveless

It’s tough to talk about this one, not because it seems as if everything that can be said about it has been said, but because there are always new things to say about it. I’m honestly always throwing different adjectives at Loveless. None of them hit the mark. None of them even come close.

Yeah, it doesn’t help people who haven’t heard Loveless when I tell them “look, you just kind of have to listen to it.” And sometimes, “you just have to stick with it.” But there come points of understanding with Loveless where you don’t really have words and then you sort of fathom why it’s so difficult to put into concrete terms.

Sure, My Bloody Valentine “got it” with some of their mid-career EPs. You could hear they knew what they wanted to be, and with You Made Me Realize and Isn’t Anything they locked in and made their ideals secondary, crafting classics of the era. Still, they were getting closer to something. But listening to Loveless after Isn’t Anything or even Glider is still a bizarre departure. The leap in style and composition is jarring, and even though Loveless is a sensible next step, it still sounds like a whole slew of material was skipped on the way to it.

And really, it’s not a stretch at all to say nothing sounds like Loveless. God knows enough people have tried to emulate it; Loveless skyrocketed the sub-genre of shoegaze into the indie stratosphere and people tried to shadow its style for, now, decades. And yet I haven’t heard even one other band attempt to use My Bloody Valentine’s tremolo techniques, deliver half as eclectic of a set or even touch on its emotional impact.

And emotional impact might be its most recognizable quality. Loveless is an incredibly visceral record; even when it sounds wrong it feels right. Kevin Shields and Belinda Butcher make their guitars pulse and tremble in a somewhat random fashion, blanketing innovative pop songs with an unpredictable sheet of warmth. The result is incredibly difficult to pin down and yet still completely beautiful and moving.

The irony of its title seems to be the album’s least discussed issue, and my guess is because it is either so obviously ass backwards that it requires no further acknowledgment or because there are subtle implications throughout that Loveless never quite reaches transcendence. Shields himself has claimed that he wishes he could have taken the ideas he presented on Loveless further, but doing so would have ensured that it would never be released, and I have heard this album described as “ugly” countless times. It’s not an easy album, and it is by no means perfect, but its rewards leave us speechless, and that is something that few, if any, other artists have ever truly achieved. There is no album more filled with love.

My Bloody Valentine

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5 comments

  1. What you’ve gotta’ do is post some Youtube clips of MBV’s recent live gigs. Those clips demonstrate why this album is so significant, as the sound is so loud and so unbelievably woozy that it makes Loveless‘s sonics much more tangible than they were when the album was first mixed back in the halcyon Creation days.


  2. Yeah, I’ve seen some of those clips and they are really different and interesting. Have you seen them live?


  3. Alex, regrettably no, I haven’t seen them live. As you know, they were inactive for pretty much all of the part of my teen years when I could have afforded a concert ticket. Now, they’ve just done these way overpriced festival/ATP-type shows when I’m living on a “teacher’s slaray,” which makes it impossible for me to afford a ticket. Life’s funny that way, I guess.

    Dinosaur Jr. and Mogwai get pretty close to MBV-esque, eardum-puncturing shows, though.


  4. Yeah, I saw Dinosaur Jr. last year and it was painfully, epically loud in the best way.


  5. Yeah, sure Dinosaur Jr. are effing loud, but the main difference between them and MBV is that you can still actually *hear* the music and notes and melody. It’s all crystal clear in it’s perfected distortion. If I ever thought I were being abducted by aliens or experiencing audio synesthesia, it would have been when I saw MBV last year in Denver.



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