It was 4:34 AM a few days after Christmas and I was sat on my computer in my festive underwear. Wholly wired in, panicked and concerned, my basement-dweller body jittered at the possible leak of the first My Bloody Valentine record in over twenty years, mbv. As a single droplet of sweat liberated itself from my watery forehead I sat back and thought for a second as to why an album was causing me to act in such a manner. It wasn’t because I’m a nerd (although I am). It wasn’t because I wanted to slate the album before even listening to it (although I wanted to). It was to witness the continuation of a sonic legacy bore out of an artist that did more than just release a popular album.
With their 1991 release Loveless, My Bloody Valentine trod a new path that morphed and contorted alternative music into something aurally gorgeous yet barbaric, unknowingly cementing themselves and the album as indie-legend. After the release of their first LP Isn’t Anything in 1988, My Bloody Valentine looked to evolve the post-punk-in-a-blender style they had begun to develop. Kevin Shields’ authoritarian fist crashed into the band’s character, creating something bigger, noisier, and more importantly; messier. Influences of Sonic Youth, Mudhoney, Dinosaur Jr and other fuzz-fuelled collectives lay strewn across Loveless but despite this, My Bloody Valentine create a record unique in itself and independent from late 80s/early 90s noise rock. Loveless openly displays where it comes from, but the record’s destination can never at any moment be pinned down, making such a release timeless.
Loveless erupts with attitude, grit and blur. Throughout the record, MBV’s epochal whirred guitars swell and pulse, defining the Irish quartet’s sound and subsequent career. Shields, without caring if the neighbours are in, blows the record open with probably the most abrasive track of the 90s, ‘Only Shallow’ having his oscillating fuzz bend and howl around Colm Ó Cíosóig’s thudding, headache drums. At the same time the band’s patriarch is able to mould and distort the record’s weighty sound through the subtle and swelling ‘Sometimes’ that leans on Shields’ intoxicating wall of noise. Further note should be aimed at the clear electronic element that washes over Loveless, heard in ‘To Here Knows When’ with Bilinda Butcher’s airy vocals and floating synth lines drifting high above the swirling guitar mess below.
Rather than a record to hear Loveless is a record to touch, or more so, a record to grab you by the legs and dangle you over a bridge until you can smell the watery soup that lies beneath you. Texture and power is everything to My Bloody Valentine here, but this is what makes the album soar above other shoegaze releases. In Shields’ driving guitars and Butcher’s apathetic vocals the entire attitude of shoegaze is realised; the whirr, the blur and the unmistakeable wall of noise that is built out of this eleven track audible Jackson Pollock piece. Without Loveless, modern independent music loses something more than just art-students with fringes. It loses texture, power and sheer hazy violence; some things worth staying up until 5 in the morning for.