PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


My Bloody Valentine: m b v - Counterpoint

What's more surprsing: that a third My Bloody Valentine album now actually exists, or that it's not all that far removed from where Loveless left off?

My Bloody Valentine

m b v

Label: Self-released
US Release Date: 2013-02-02
UK Release Date: 2013-02-02

By God, it actually happened. They actually did it. For two decades Kevin Shields’ eternally on-the-horizon projections for a prospective third My Bloody Valentine LP grew to be increasingly fanciful. It got to a point where a website titled isthenewmybloodyvalentinealbumoutyet.com sprang up. Until recently, said site only consisted of the word “NO” plastered on a single page. When back in November Shields had the gall to say that they were (in his words) halfway through mixing that mythic third album, I guffawed.

Yet over the weekend Shields and Co. finally delivered. Websites were crashed, petitions to heads of state were instigated, and at least two generations of indie music fans made a collective “squee!” sound. The group’s last album, the 1991 landmark shoegaze opus Loveless, took about two years and a squadron of studio hands to piece together. The end result utterly reinvented a genre My Bloody Valentine had more or less invented in the first place, and has become a familiar sight on “best albums of all time” lists. If you care one iota about My Bloody Valentine, chances are you’ve already acquired your own copy of the unassumingly titled m b v and are quickly solidifying your own opinions on an LP that beat out Chinese Democracy in the “obscenely long overdue follow-up” sweepstakes. That’s cool -- you should be excited, basking in the glowing aftermath of this day many have wished for but were never entirely sure would come. The question of “is it any good?” is largely academic at this juncture.

But is m b v any good, really? Well, yeah, actually, it is. Not to mention even after countless second-wave shoegaze and nu-gaze musicians spent the last 20-odd years copying and strip-mining Loveless, My Bloody Valentine crafting an album that sounds undisputedly like something only this band could make is a tiny victory worth applauding. From the very first crackle of guitar distortion, the authorship is unmistakable, and devotees of Loveless will come face-to-face with the familiar charms of amorphous textures more akin to whales crying than the sound of conventional guitars, as well as Shields and Belinda Butcher’s soothing coos through the ether.

However, don’t come into m b v expecting another masterpiece. It’s a good album, but not a great one, and though the long tail of history will eventually render such a long production time moot, it’s certainly not a record justifying the ludicrous wait. Take away the distance and compare m b v to Loveless (as well as its predecessor, Isn’t Anything), and it comes up short. Where Isn’t Anything and Loveless were bold steps forward, m b v is a holding pattern, maintaining a style certain to please those who desperately craved Loveless, Pt. 2.

m b v is largely defined by how is draws upon on the dreamier aspects of Loveless, its nine tracks drifting along for interminable lengths on a firm bedding of gauzy guitars. It’s very much mood music, with little touches (“She Found Now”’s disconcerting harmonic changes, the soaring overdub straight out of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” that streaks across “Only Tomorrow) tasked with performing the outsized duty of keeping the songs interesting. In fairness, m b v isn’t solely pretending that the last 20 years in music didn’t happen. “New You” has a sunny lilt to it evocative of the more forward-thinking end of Britpop, while Colm Ó Cíosóig lays down rumbling jungle rhythms for “In Another Way”. Funnily enough, if judged solely by what’s heard on the record, the biggest influence on My Bloody Valentine over the past two decades has apparently been Stereolab, whose lounge-disco cool is discernibly evoked in “Is This and Yes” and “If I Am”.

Tedious closers “Nothing Is” and “Wonder 2” aside, m b v convincingly maintains My Bloody Valentine’s mystique without sullying it. Yet did this record really require so many years of effort? Did Kevin Shields really need to scrap an album’s worth of material before putting together what is essentially a reprise of Loveless? And considering all the expectation and the enormity of My Bloody Valentine’s influence on alternative rock music from 1991 to now, has m b v been worth all the wait. The answer, if it is to be summed up with a webpage image, would include the word “No”. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth a listen or five, heavens no. Once the dust settles, we’ll probably all see m b v in much the same light, as a laudable re-flexing of musical muscle, a warm-up of old routines that reminded everyone of what was so appealing about this gang of shoegazers in the first place. And hopefully whatever’s next will be another great leap forward instead of a lovely yet customary lap around a familiar track.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.


20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.


Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.


The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.


Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).


Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.


Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.


Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.


Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.


Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.


Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.


Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.


Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.


The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.