It's been 22 years since Loveless graced and pummeled my 21-year-old ears and psyche. Little did I know that I would have to wait until I was 43 years old before I would have the opportunity to buy the next installment. Most of the sane people in the world stopped holding their breath (or at least pretended to) after the 10 year mark and went on like most people and got jobs, families, houses and bigger and bigger record collections.
When I was kid I was always obsessed with music of all kinds. I remember begging my Dad for one of his Beatles records when I was about 5 years old. I didn't even know who the Beatles were I just knew I loved it and my Dad responded by handing me a Loudon Wainwright III record saying "Here's a Beatles record now stop bugging me!" I couldn't have been happier, I was 5 (I still have it).
Anyway, I had so many musical influences growing up it was next to impossible to pick one kind of music and call it my own, they were all mine. So, being a kid who simultaeously loved Sondheim and Black Flag made it next to impossible to hold onto any semblance of being actually cool. I was a kid who would talk about mariachi music with the same love and enthusiasm as the latest Pandoras or Dead Kennedys record I had just heard.
What does My Bloody Valentine have in common with Mariachi bands, Sondheim and Black Flag you ask? Well, absolutely nothing and absolutely everything is my answer. "But you're crazy Senor El Guapo! Are you on the droogas or something?" Well in a way yes. It's all about sound, not necessarily music but sound. 22 years ago I took a massive dose of sound like no sound I'd ever had before and I came back from it a changed person. Maybe I'm a bit on the spectrum, who knows, but I hear the world in a very different way now and I'm never going back. Obviously My Bloody Valentine weren't the first band to experiment with sound, but MBV alongside Spacemen 3, Stereolab and Sonic Youth were my gateway to Brian Eno, Silver Apples, Can, Hawkwind etc etc! I appear to be one of many that share very similar experiences.
So, after a 22 year wait how should I take this new record on? I'm actually afraid to press play, what's the worse that could happen? I would hate to be in Kevin Shields' shoes. The honest truth is that I am sincerely surprised that he actually made the decision to put this out at all. Not because it's bad, because I think it's quite good, but because he went out with a masterpiece 22 years ago that literally changed the face of music and sound that will never be equaled even by its creator. I stated earlier that I almost wish that he had made a 180 degree turn and released some sort of a psychedelic cumbia dubstep record instead as a big f*ck you to all the shoegaze geeks slobbering for one more chance to re-live the 90s.
So the web site crashed and a hundred thousand anoracks began to panic (just a little bit) until my 43-year-old butt decided to go to bed and try again in the morning. Next day, 8:30 a.m., and I've bought 2 vinyl copies and my digital download. I wave goodbye to my dutiful wife, kiss her on the cheek, and tell her I will be away for a while and not to worry or send for help.
Listening to this record really needs to be a vinyl experience, but the records won't be here until March so digital it will have to be. I have fairly decent speakers and a nice comfy chair and I turn it waaaay up and close my eyes. This is where I "don't" go into some long fawning song by song soliloquy about how the record sounds like the violent beauty of underwater rainbows and pegacorns swimming through a miasma of blue angel hair, like every review out there. I don't have an overall solidified opinion yet and I'm not sure I ever will. I'm on my fourth listen and it's getting better and better with each successive listen. The joy of a My Bloody Valentine record is that it keeps on giving; they are the everlasting gobstopper of rock and roll and I am still discovering new sounds and experiences in their music 25 years after first hearing them and this new record is the next chapter in that musical journey.
My first impression was that the record sounded like sketches--it's all there but somehow not finished and not in the right order, whereas Isn't Anything and Loveless seem fully formed and near perfect from the first listen. Something tells me that if you could plug directly into Kevin Shields' brain and listen to it, this record would be what is going on most of the time. Am I crazy? Probably. Does any of this matter in the slightest? Probably not. Why the hell does all this seem to matter to me? A friend of mine put it best when asked about the new record, saying, "Some of the best shows I've seen in my life were MBV shows. I just can't be bothered with the hype, and like I said, I still can't wrench my new Bobby Bland LP off the turntable". I could not agree more and something tells me Kevin Shields would concur.
So yeah, I f*ing love this band and probably always will, but as I said in the beginning of this post I have gone from 21-year-old indie kid to 43-year-old music nerd who is way more obsessed with The Oblivions, King Khan and No Bunny, and whether I will ever be able to afford a house and raise children to inherit my obnoxiously large record collection (I mean, what else are kids for?).
I have no doubt that this new record will turn out to be a beautiful piece of work and I will listen to it over and over again forever, but in the long term it's a beautiful piece of work that is 22 years too late. So in the meantime I'll be waiting for that MBV Psychedelic Cumbia Dubstep record that has been rumored about for 2025. I think I'll put on that Bobby Bland record while I wait.
I leave you with nothing from the new record, However I will leave you with The New Record by My Bloody Valentine.