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Review: My Bloody Valentine, 'mbv'

Posted 2:36pm on Monday, Feb. 04, 2013

Press play on the new My Bloody Valentine album, and time just evaporates.

After all, it has been more than 20 years since the influential Irish band released any music, and its last album, 1991’s Loveless, was such a seminal moment for a generation of young rockers than MBV mastermind Kevin Shields admitted to a slight mental breakdown in the wake of the record’s release.

Following up such a beloved classic was a Herculean task, and one which, like Guns N’ Roses’ decades-in-the-making Chinese Democracy before it, became something of a running joke in music circles. There have been many false alarms, particularly in the past four years, when My Bloody Valentine began performing sporadically around the world (including a memorable 2009 show at Dallas’ Palladium Ballroom).

But, with relatively little fanfare, Shields unveiled the simply titled mbv over the weekend, causing a crush of traffic to crash the band’s website and sending music nerds into paroxysms of glee on social media. (For now, the album is digital-only and available only through MBV’s website, with CD and vinyl versions due out Feb. 22.)

The band’s third full-length, produced by Shields, doesn’t break from MBV’s signature sound: thick walls of grinding guitar towering over faintly audible vocals, and an aggressive rhythm section often seeming on the verge of total collapse. Yet, within this sonic morass, lovely melodies emerge: Only Tomorrow, Who Sees You and If I Am boast luminous moments that slice through the carefully composed chaos — indeed, Wonder 2, which closes the album, sounds like a swooning rock song recorded deep inside a jet engine.

Many tracks stretch beyond the five-minute mark, and multiple listens fail to pry loose any discernible theme. As it was with Loveless, mbv is primarily concerned with mood over meaning and is the rare record that manages to live up to its extended hype.

Few bands could defy the passage of time and pick up right where they left off, but then, there’s only one My Bloody Valentine.

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