My Bloody Valentine – Loveless

RiYL: The Jesus & Mary Chain, Cocteau Twins, Galaxie 500

While the de facto trend here at RadioUTD land may be to… you know… review the albums as they are released… I am somehow compelled to write a review for an album that was released almost two decades ago now. So strange, I realize. My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless is just that amazing though, and the album’s influence has only grown sweeter with time.

It’s the defining album of the shoegazing genre, Kevin Shields own magnum opus. At the same time it is an album that helped bring about the end of shoegazing as a distinct style. Neither MBV nor any of their counterparts could ever really formulate a way to follow an album as transcendental as Loveless. The Valentines would never produce another release, slowly fading away without ever having formally broken apart. “The scene that celebrates itself” never reeeaally ended though, at least not in any absolute sense. An abundantly diverse array of great bands are admittedly influenced by the music of MBV. Anything from M83 and Sigur Rós to that favorite band of everyone’s older brother growing up, Guided By Voices. Yes, Even Thom Yorke of a quaint little English quintet, Radioheads is it…?, has proclaimed his love for Loveless. And if Thom loves it, really, who are we to argue? So….
Between the 88 release of Isn’t Anything and Loveless in 91, Shields had mastered the use of his tremolo strumming style to expert effect, creating a fuzzy, lush and bounding texture (visually, the album art expresses this quality perfectly). Snare heavy drumming, along with the guitar work of Shields, furnishes the droning, filled wall of sound that is a trademark of the shoegazing genre (Note: Not Phil Spector! style wall of sound, this is noise from an almost painfully loud and often, detuned guitar). Surely MBV is a guitar driven band, but it is the vocal harmonization of Shields and Bilinda Butcher that gives them their true emotional appeal. Butcher’s breezy, sometimes dizzyingly ethereal voice glides over Shields’ thickly layered chords. This is the essential MBV sound. Choice of word here doesn’t matter so much as the quality of feeling conveyed in her voice. I am definitely! not, however, contending that the lyrics are used simply as another instrument. Cryptic as they may be, there is meaning behind them, usually a sense of nostalgia or longing, as on “To Here Knows When” (Turn/Your head/Come back again/To here knows when).

In the end there is hardly a superlative I could place upon this album that hasn’t in some way found its way there countless times prior. While there is a monumental amount of hype surrounding Loveless, to the point sometimes of almost becoming a cliché, hype is not always necessarily the assailant of truth or originality.

-Ryan Lewis

My Bloody Valentine - Loveless