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.
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.
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