Posted Monday, Feb. 4, 2013, at 11:38 AM
Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine
Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images
Eardrums around the world cowered Saturday as My Bloody Valentine announced, and then released, their first album in over 20 years. If it seemed too good to be true, at first it was: No one could get their site, which was overwhelmed by traffic, to work.
The site seems to have recovered now—the long-awaited album, called m b v, is yours for $16—and you can stream it in full via YouTube below.
What have two decades done to the sound of the seminal shoegaze band? At first, not much. The first three tracks on m b v could easily be mistaken for Loveless II, with Kevin Shields’ signature waves of oozing guitars sounding as massive as ever. Around the fourth track, though, you realize that Shields has picked up some new tricks, with Bilinda Butcher’s airy vocals floating over not layers of guitar sludge but what sounds like a pedal organ. It’s in this middle section that the album gets quite a bit poppier, with “new you” sporting a surprisingly bouncy groove on the bass.
On its final third, though, m b v turns downright violent. Track seven squeals to life with what sound like deranged electronic bagpipes, before launching a tumbling assault of jagged, stabbing guitars. Track eight, “nothing is,” locks into a thrashing one-chord march, but the band takes a page from perhaps the loudest band of this decade, Sleigh Bells, and gradually turns up the volume over the course of the track. The closer, “wonder 2,” is overpowered by a whirring sound like a jetliner overhead, with double-time drums scrambling on the ground far below.
Even after a generation of imitators, the band still sounds like no one else. On m b v, they don’t sound so much like 1991 or 2013 as—like on Loveless—they just sound timeless.