Finally, after hours of waiting, the website kicked into shape, I entered my special promotional code and set out on a trip with the new My Bloody Valentine album, an exercise in mind melting weirdness and blissful pop genius. Nothing in this world makes any sense and that’s the strength of this trip.

Now that indie has become a genre MBV has moved into a space of their own, with the first truly psychedelic record of the 21st century.

She Found Now

A song so symphonic and off the scale in its sheer mbv-ness, She Found Now makes a lush and beautiful start to the album. A huge, yet distant wall of sound and distorted guitar sits in the background whilst delicate chords are strummed over the top with a touch of the whammy bar adding to the spectral beauty. The hushed Kevin vocal cuts through, somewhere in the background there is a pulsing bass drum and interweaving bass.
Few rock albums have started with something so refreshingly upside down sounding- none of the instruments are in the right place and this adds to the sheer mind-fuckery of the song that in classic MBV style somehow manages to combine distance and close up, a menacing prowl and a pulsing beauty.

Only Tomorrow

More upbeat with that skipping, almost indie dance beat, loop in the background, Only Tomorrow is sung by Bilinda Butcher and oozes that sticky, honey sexiness of the best MBV songs. It’s also oozingly pyschedelic and the pulsing distortion is really hypnotic as the song weaves its way round the really great chord changes with all kinds of sounds and feedback drones meshing in the background in the middle section like a trippy marsh. There is even a great twanging guitar break at the end that oozes out of the sound. A total pop song and a 21st century, six minute, mind bending classic.

Who Sees You

There is some sort of riff going on here and what sounds like real drums in the background, so far none of the mooted jungle loops are in the songs. The riff bends and sways with a whammy weirdness that just should not work but somehow in the hands of MBV it’s achingly hypnotic. Kevin sings this one in the now familiar hushed style as he picks up the sweet melody. As the song moves on, the clash between the vocal melody and the plain weird background becomes mesmerising. There is a great guitar break in the middle- pure ecstasy, in every meaning of the word.

Is This And Yes

Starting off with a pulsing keyboard and some distant Toms action, Bilinda sings a high vocal over the droning keyboards, the song is of course, blissful, and slipping and sliding weird. More of a sketch than a ‘real’ song, it captures an atmosphere and a distance, an early morning reconnecting with the world peacefulness.

If I Am

The drums are back, playing another one of those looped out indie dance style things as they skip away in the background of another seriously off kilter mix. The song slips in and out of focus as Bilinda coos the vocal out in the slithering sounds of the drones and, what sounds like, wah wah guitar in the background. At some points both vocalists sing together in a sigh along! The classic melody holds the whole thing together and you realise that MBV twist the back to front mixes with the sheer bliss of classic melodies on the other.

New You

Debbie’s bass (or whoever plays the bass, at xmas Debbie said she had not heard most of the album) drives the intro to this one, hooking out a strident and powerful bass shape as the Vib trem guitar floats across it before the song kicks in with Bilinda singing what almost sounds like a normal song – normal because there is less of the waves of sound floating across it, not normal like the rest of music! Another great melody.

In Another Way

A faster song with the collapsing down the stairs drums that were such a hallmark of Colm’s drumming in the early Valentines, Bilinda sings across the song that seems to be going several different speeds at once. MBV prove that they can still do the up tempo stuff here with a song that, yet again, should just not work with its conflicting parts somehow stitched together into an overall musical narrative. This is a collision of the strident beat, some truly mind melting guitar parts and a spectral vocal of sheer breathy beauty.

part 2 of the My Bloody Valentine track by track album review is here

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. I really don’t know how you became an “award winning journalist” this is a track by track description of what the songs sound like, it’s not a review. Do you not have anything else to say on the record apart from what the songs sound like?

    • Correct- it’s a track y track review of the album as it finally came onto the net. A big part of a review is what the songs sound like!

  2. Predictably the Internet has gone mad for the new MBV record. As a long time fan it pains me to write this review. I was massively excited about their new material – having listened to it 5 times here are my thoughts:

    First off the cover – it’s horrible. Apparently there were 800 submissions for cover art – if this is the best they could come up with I’d hate to have seen the other 799 designs. Such a shame when the covers of Loveless, Isn’t Anything the EP’s are so great. It looks like a 10 year old did it on a computer.

    Anyway, on with the important bit – the music:

    1. One of the more successful songs on the album. It’s kind of sub Loveless but heavier. A promising start then. It has bendy guitars. It had hushed vocals. But it’s forgotten the tune.

    2. A pretty ponderous riff jugs along in the background with the now obligatory bendy effects. Where has the tune gone? At over 6 minutes there’s nothing to sustain this song – I can live with meandering if it has a purpose but this song is so… boring!

    3. More bendy guitars – the whole way through. But where has the tune gone? This is a recurring theme throughout this record. What made MBV great (like the Mary Chains Psychocandy) were the melodies. Loveless has them in bucketfuls beneath all the distortion. This new record is woefully lacking.

    4. More bendy guitars – and a meandering vocal. It’s out of focus stuff and not unpleasant. But not outstanding either. I like it though.

    5. The weakest song on the album – it’s horrible. A meandering keyboard/organ meanders while a cooing Bilinda vocal meanders. There are some drums somewhere in the mix which add nothing at all.

    6. I actually quite like this. They played it at the electric gig and thankfully they’ve toned down the keyboard part. It’s a nice melody if a little light musically for an MBV tune. It’s ‘nice’. My mum would like it too.

    7. This has bendy guitars and a cooing vocal from Bilinda. A least here there’s some semblance of a coherent vocal hook and melody. I like it.

    8. An instrumental – it has pounding (and great) drums – it has bendy guitars – it doesn’t have a vocal. It’s kind of pointless but in no way bad.

    9. Sounding like a train put through a flanger this piece is interesting musically. It has bendy guitars – it has out of focus vocals. It’s forgotten the tune. It reminds me of Swans latest offerings. Kind of intense but not very sexy. It leaves me totally cold.

    In summary MBV have forgotten the tunes. Take any song from Loveless out of context and play it on a piano or guitar and there are some lovely melodies in there. This record just doesn’t deliver. I’m all for avant garde if that’s what this record’s trying to be but it fails in that respect too. As for the bendy guitars and cooing vocals this record has them in spades – but is it pushing into new territory for MBV? No. Does it make up for that with some cracking hooks and melodies? No. Was it worth the wait? Not really

    For an MBV record – 3/10
    Compared with their contemporaries I’d give it a 7/10

    • I think groups make one push into new areas and then consolidate that gain…MBV are no different- I’m really enjoying this album for the music and not the boundary breaking

  3. Total rubbish. Awful solos. Boring crap. Let the mbv tribe worship at the feet of a fallen god. Just glad he pulled his fucking thimb out.

  4. Great review. Thanks for getting that up so fast- you were first and still managed to write a better review than the cliched reviews that wrote what they thought they were meant to write that went up later in the day. Also it’s a great album.

  5. long time fan but….album just isnt very good. 1st 3 songs are ok. good to hear shields play his guitar like only he can but the songs themselves just arnt that good. theres a couple of songs that sound like stereolab at their most boring. the guitars are missing that mbv sparkle (or reverse reverb). some of it sounds really dated. but my main issue with it is what i said above. the songs really arnt that good. theres no “sometines/all i need/swallow/to here knows” etc here. people can shite on about this being a fantastic album but the fact is….its not. and im getting annoyed reading all the “if you dont like it then you just dont get mbv” comments. i never expected another lovess or isnt anything, but i did expect some good songs which this album hasnt delivered.


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