I first discovered My Bloody Valentine in a conversation about a mostly unrelated band, The Twilight Sad. I described their dreary, noisy, achingly abrasive guitars like ‘police sirens’. Never mind that I had ripped this description straight off an indie blogger lost at the back-of-beyond of the internet, the first response I got was: “Oh, have you tried My Bloody Valentine?” Typical. I hated their Loveless album of years ago and didn’t play My Bloody Valentine again for another six months.
But here is m b v. I’ll make one – only one – tentative link between this and Loveless: where Loveless begins with alarms, sirens, a sudden entry, m b v doesn’t. Content with itself, without having to say anything more than being My Bloody Valentine, it’s softer, warmer, and nostalgic. More inviting. Dreamy, static-like basslines fuzz at the bottom of the tape, with a warm guitar chord dripping, now and again, infrequent, on top. The introduction recollects memories I’ll probably never have: all I can think of are sun-splashed coastal roads, fading sunsets, and the sudden light – a twang of a guitar – of a passing car – that seems to build in pitter-patters, before suddenly you’re standing on the edge of California’s Route 1 on the edge of rainfall.
The entire album is one long, watery escape, from drips to torrents of rain and backwards hurricanes and lost seas, drenched in a dreamy sun that doesn’t forget to shine, eased by those oh-so-familiar drifting, whispered vocals. Somehow these lo-fi, low-tech, nasally guitar passages in repetition become beautiful. When the music becomes sinister, the sudden movement in harmony is precarious; it’s always backed by warmth somewhere in the music, it’s always dancing between light and dark. It’s how you might imagine drowning: a peaceful reverie with the glimpse of sunlight above, instead of literally suffocating.
m b v, then, is like drowning in a dream in a thousand ways. From thick, noise-heavy layers of shoegaze, My Bloody Valentine constantly diverge: electronic drum loops; jerky, uncertain guitar solos; squelchy, psychedelic basslines – complete with ‘doo doo doo’s in the vocals; faux-organ synths. Watery textures thicken and thin, move from forefront to background, from melody-driven to drone-like and hypnotic, it’s all fluid: transition is almost seamless. This culminates in the typhoon that is ‘Wonder 2’, which captures the intensity and conflict of m b v’s lucid dreams in one final scene. On one side, swelling and rising ‘eastern’ harmonies, backwards-recorded guitars, pitted against frantic, rhythmical drumming most likely recorded inside of an aeroplane fan. Two worlds clash: a sweet 60s fantasy that probably never happened, and a modern, mechanic reality that you’ll have to wake up when m b v casts you back onto shore.
What is clear, despite this fuzzy, guitar-drenched escape, is that m b v is not a typical tack at nineties revivalism, which 2012 was full of. m b v wants to explore more, and it is more: it blends influences backwards and forwards into its own blurry guitar lines, from fifty years ago to today. m b v, as its name suggests, is completely My Bloody Valentine, but it’s more expansive, and whilst it’s sure of itself, it might lose you in its dreams, escapes, and reveries.