Æ: Aglet Eaters

this is not a review: m b v

Posted in Feature by R on February 3, 2013


Three seconds in and I’m really angry with the new My Bloody Valentine record.

You don’t know why because I, surprisingly, did NOT immediately spit my angst out on twitter. I didn’t want to dampen everyone’s elevated spirits. The one tweet that did go out was:

Scott Walker‘ was the sole response, and immediately disqualified on the grounds of not actually being a band. The remaining angst (at all the hype) and disappointment (trending is the new selling out?) was sublimated into these two socially acceptable fellas:

The message that I was trying to politically correctedly squeeze out was that we’re all acting like MBV is the first raincloud we’ve seen after a 20 year drought, which seems grossly unfair to all those bands that have been working on keeping the sound and the scene alive in that time.

In any case, MBV is only the most severely replicated band we have. A newcomer to the scene could be forgiven for imagining the band is the embodiment of a generic shoegaze sound; that the style has no nuances or subtypes. MBV is shoegaze and is indistinguishable from Slowdive or The Telescopes. Why, anyone with a bit of fuzz on their guitar sounds like MBV, right?

Of course not. That’s a filler statement in a music review. It only holds true for a handful of bands. Secret Shine, the most blatant, Fleeting Joys, the most dedicated, and Ringo Deathstarr, the most successful.

It’s been twenty years, and I know I have moved on to more evolved forms of shoegaze. I get excited about a new Alcest album because I don’t know anyone else who can blend raging black metal guitars, with serene vocals, to create a landscape so vivid you can see it. I (would) get excited about a new [The] Slowest Runner [In All The World] album, because I’ve never known a sound like neo-classical warehouse post-rock. I get excited about The Radio Dept and Me You Us Them and A Place To Bury Strangers and even the Telescopes because I don’t have anyone else to turn to for a fix.

For 20 years, MBV has been all around me in the form of homages, rip-offs, and influencees.

Three seconds in, I was really angry with the new MBV record. I understood the excitement – maybe I felt it too? I understood there was only one MBV, and the sounds was irreproducible. I understood that the bands working in the interim were too many, too tiny to be able to compete. I understood I may be the only one who’d moved on to embrace Butterfly Explosion, Tears Run Rings, A Place To Bury Strangers, Airiel, Echodrone, Hammock, Amusement Parks on Fire, Highspire, God Is An Astronaut and countless more.

And in the midst of all this understanding, I realised the new MBV album means nothing to any of us if you think about what it would have meant to Danny.

Danny Lackey isn’t here for the release of m b v, but more than any of us he deserves to have heard it. Rather, it deserves to have been heard by him. So while you’re listening to m b v, take a moment, or 46 minutes and 29 seconds, and listen to it for Danny. Then go a step further and prove your dedication to the music, its makers, and the scene.


8 Responses

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  1. Kim Welsh said, on February 3, 2013 at 4:54 pm


  2. Keith said, on February 4, 2013 at 8:46 am

    Well, I must admit having had a good listen I am underwhelmed. Seems old fashioned and (whispers) boring. Other ‘fuzzy’ bands for me are Between the Cities are Stars, Bloddy Knives and pinkshinyultrablast.

    • Radhika said, on February 14, 2013 at 5:03 pm

      The same day I heard m b v, I heard HANDLINGNOISE and now I’m like “MBV who?”

      As in – it’s good, sure, but it’s Loveless revisited – just not quite as well. It’s reassuring that they exist – kind of like the era never ended, but in terms of music – what’s there to hook the fickle 21st century neurons?

  3. Jim Payne said, on February 14, 2013 at 4:16 am

    The phrase that comes to mind whilst listening to the new album by My Bloody Valentine is, “You can never go home again.” To their credit, MBV tried diligently to do so, surely because that’s what they thought the fans wanted: “Loveless, Part II.” Heck, I thought that’s what -I- wanted. Which brings me to the next applicable phrase: “Be careful what you wish for.” (Or, to be more grammatically correct: “Be careful for what you wish.”) It’s what I was hoping for — until I got it. It’s not a bad album, but it sounds like it could have been a collection of unreleased outtakes from “Loveless.” I think the splendor of “Loveless” comes from the fact that when it came out, nothing else sounded like it. It was truly original. To try to recreate originality is an exercise in futility. It’s an impossible oxymoron. The irony is that the original “Loveless” still sounds ahead of its time, while this release already sounds dated.

    I think it’s the album we all expected and wanted from My Bloody Valentine, but now that we have it — “Meh.” Of course, if they’d released something totally different, they would have been accused of “going mainstream” or trying to create “pop” music.

    Cliched phrase #3: “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” I actually feel kind of bad for the band, knowing they’d be releasing an album to such high expectations. Maybe that’s why, when it finally happened, the band did it very discreetly and without too much fanfare. I didn’t even know it HAD been released. The release had been “imminent” for months, but then it happened, and I didn’t even know it had happened. It was almost like the band was saying, “Here it is; we hope you don’t hate it too much. We know we’ll never recreate the original, but this is our trademark sound that the fans demand — even if other bands have copied it ad infinitum, and we now sound like a cheap knock-off ourselves.”

    It’s not a horrible album, though, and maybe it will grow on me over time??

    This non-review, as it were, was a nice and touching tribute to Danny, by the way. The Bandcamp fund is also an amazing thing, with some fantastic music that in itself is a wonderful tribute to Danny. Danny used to always have his song postings on Facebook accompanied by thoughtful and optimistic writings about peace and harmony. My hope is that all hatred and “evil” is ultimately transient and unsustainable, while all true love, kindness, and beauty transcends and reaches on forever. My belief is that Danny is now beyond pain, and only experiencing the type of peace and harmony for which we all strive. I would have loved to have gotten his take on the new MBV album, but perhaps there will be a time and place for that, if all things good and true do reach on forever.

    • Radhika said, on February 14, 2013 at 5:04 pm

      I couldn’t agree more – we’re probably the same person, Jim. Thanks for saying what I couldn’t/didn’t bring myself to. I did say somewhere on facebook that it’s not their ‘time’ anymore – maybe it would have worked in Loveless time, but even then – was it new? even now – when we have all of the above – why would anyone, apart from the shoegaze clan, give MBV any extra attention?

      Why don’t you just write for AE with me – it’s not like there’s going to be any editorial conflict

      • Jim Payne said, on February 15, 2013 at 2:32 am

        Very kind words, Radhika — thank you! Also, if that last sentence in your reply was an actual offer, I’d be very flattered and would humbly accept such an offer! 🙂

      • Radhika said, on March 16, 2013 at 8:02 pm

        I owe you an email and I was going to say this in that, but since I still haven’t got around to completing that, I’ll just say this here: it was totally a serious offer – I’d be honoured to have you here!

  4. Jim Payne said, on March 20, 2013 at 2:57 am

    I know well the burden of time constraints and finite energy, so no worries on the email “thang.” I am curious to know how the world is treating you these days, Radhika, but there is no pressure coming from my end. It is my honour, however, to accept your offer. I already have some potential ideas in that regard. We shall correspond and collaborate as time permits, and it shall be glorious… :}

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