After a 22 year stint with no new My Bloody Valentine material, Kevin Shields was heckled at a recent London gig with the question “When’s the album out?” amidst laughter. Shields coolly responded with “Maybe two or three days”. And thus, with zero promotion or official announcements, the band dropped one of the most anticipated releases in alternative rock. mbv is the follow-up to 1991’s Loveless: arguably the best and most important shoegaze album ever made. As impossible as a follow-up seemed, My Bloody Valentine have done a superlative job.
The album opens with ‘She Found Now’, a mind-altering masterpiece of androgynous whispers, subtle percussion and dreamy wall-of-sound guitar. It’s unmistakably My Bloody Valentine, continuing with the sounds they perfected on Loveless. The first six tracks flow in the same vein of focused and expertly produced experiments within the shoegaze genre. Layer after layer of distortion floods each track in a surreal haze which is uniquely warming. Shields proves he can also write melodies with ‘New You’ a soothing radio-friendly track complemented by guitarist Belinda Butcher’s saccharine sweet vocals.
The final three tracks mark more a departure from the familiar My Bloody Valentine sound. The piercing guitars of ‘In Another Way’ ring over house beats in one of the heaviest songs the band has ever written. Album closer ‘Wonder 2’ is a startling drum freak-out with hypnotising layers of swirling guitars and heavy flanging. As a return, mbv is captivating, original and truly remarkable.