My Bloody Valentine: Only two decades late then…
It’s really not uncommon these days to find social media sites up in arms about something or other on a regular basis – and last night’s overexcited Twitter storm was no exception to that. But this time, surprisingly, Twitter wasn’t getting its collective knickers in a twist about the latest political outrage, celebrity foot-in-mouth comment, Daily Mail screed of hate or exploitative reality TV show.
Instead, and to the astonishment of music fans (of a certain age, mostly) everywhere, the mysterious and now almost mythical shoegazer band My Bloody Valentine finally released the very belated follow-up to their classic 1991 album Loveless onto their website in the early hours of this morning, to a response on Twitter that can only be described as mass indie hysteria.
Unsurprisingly, the demand for mbv (as the album is inventively titled) almost instantaneously crashed the band’s website, and it remained down for several hours – leading to frustrated jokes aplenty about MBV frontman Kevin Shields breaking the internet or spending 22 years creating a beautifully crafted error message instead of an album.
In a way, all this was typical of My Bloody Valentine – they’ve never been a band to do anything the conventional (or even easy) way. The recording sessions for Loveless, for example, comprehensively demonstrated Shields’ notorious sonic perfectionism at its peak, plus the completed album ended up almost bankrupting Creation Records in the process.
To follow that with an album that took over two decades to make, the release of which has provoked such paroxysms of delight from the fans who have patiently waited for it for so many years, does show how important many people still consider the band to be. After all, how many other indie/shoegaze bands from that period could provoke such a reaction with their first album in more than 20 years?
Admittedly, there is also an element of the power of youthful nostalgia in the fan reaction – Loveless was a huge album for those of us in our teens and twenties back then, and still is massively influential. The stories about Kevin Shields and his recording techniques that emerged in its aftermath, and the length of time it’s taken them to get on with its follow-up only deepened the mystery and mystique already associated with the band and their music.
And it’s that which is the problem here. This isn’t Loveless. It’s too early to say precisely how good (or not) mbv is (although I am hearing from a number of people that the last three tracks are astonishing), but I do wonder whether the long wait has made some of us approach it through the prism of the past rather than with the fresh pair of ears that is needed after this 22 year hiatus. After all that time, this is obviously not going to be the MBV of 1991, is it?
Or is it? I don’t know. I haven’t heard it yet, although I am waiting with baited breath to get my hands on a physical copy once the fuss has died down a bit (assuming a physical copy exists – anything’s possible with this release!). I like to take my time with an important new album like this, and, although I understand the desire to review it on first listen – as many have already done – I agree with this over at Lazer Guided Melody that it’s too soon for that.
However, having said I’d eat my hat if mbv was actually released this year, I suppose it’s not too soon to start looking up hat-related recipes… Straw hat and custard, anyone?