During the nearly 3.5 years that I’ve been maintaining this blog, I have written about all sorts of bands. But it has become clear that there are a few genres that tend to stand out. They include airy-fairy dream pop and lo-fi, slightly distorted shoegaze.
And in much of my writing, I’ve often mentioned a few bands as obvious influences to these modern acts. They include Dinosaur Jr., My Bloody Valentine and, to a lesser extent, The Jesus and Mary Chain. Alas, my knowledge of these seminal bands is extremely limited, but I know enough to be able to spot their influence.
With My Bloody Valentine ending their 22-year hiatus and releasing the sorta self-titled m b v last month, it seemed like the perfect time to finally delve into their catalog. Thankfully, it wasn’t too extensive, since they’d only put out two albums before disappearing.
Upon listening to the group’s 1988 debut, Isn’t Anything, it was understandable why most fans seem to overlook that album. It was necessarily bad, but it was clear that the band was still honing its craft.
Having a solid appreciation for ’80s music, I can only imagine what it must have been like to hear MBV for the first time back then. They’re so different from anything on the radio then, and I’m sure it was just the kind of off-the-wall sound that a lot of people were searching for at the time.
As far as I’m concerned, hearing it for the first time 25 years after it was birthed, it’s not doing a whole lot for me. There are a few noteworthy songs — “I Can See It (But I Can’t Feel It)”, “Sueisfine” and “(When You Wake) You’re Still In a Dream” — but for the most part, it’s just a bunch of distortion and unintelligible lyrics.
That brings us to 1991 and the release of Loveless, which is considered by many indie music taste-makers to be one of the most important albums ever released. Maybe if I’d heard it when it originally came out I’d have similar feelings. But hearing it in its entirety now for the first time, it’s not that much different from the band’s debut album.
MBV had clearly tightened their sound during the three years between albums and had become more accessible, but, besides a few strong tracks — “Only Shallow” and “When You Sleep” — it sounds like mostly filler.
Even though their music wasn’t for everyone, MBV had clearly opened a new world on the music landscape and basically invented the shoegaze genre. And they helped influence a slew of bands that have come out since — including more modern ones, such as Yuck, A Place To Bury Strangers, The Radio Dept. and The Helio Sequence.
The band’s recent release is said to include several tracks that were recorded in the early ’90s. And you can certainly hear some of that classic MBV sound throughout the album. But interestingly enough, a lot of the new songs sound as if they’ve been influenced by band’s modern descendants.
Gone, for the most part, is the annoying distortion, and in its place is a much more accessible, melodic sound. It’s particularly noticeable on the aptly titled “New You”.
With any luck, fans won’t have to wait another two decades for the Irish quartet to put out another album.