My Bloody Valentine “M B V” Review.

OK, new MBV first reactions. The overall sound hasn’t changed much if at all. If I had made a record as epochal and evocative as Loveless, I guess I’d have problems finishing a follow-up. There are kids in their 20s who literally grew up listening to it. I know it was on heavy rotation in my car driving kids around, and my sons are 24 and 27.

Where it’s different? “New You” is pretty sunny and not as fuzzy as the usual MBV song; the focus is on Bilinda’s multitracked vocals. It points up the influence of 60s french singers like Jane Birkin and France Gall on Shields. The album almost sounds like a noisier Stereolab at times. The two bands were more or less contemporaries; Stereolab had french women vocalists who made that connection more explicit, but it’s a serious part of Shields’ stylistic vocabular.

“If I Am” bears close listening, because it’s maybe Shields most fully realized, appealing vocal melody. If anything has changed in 22 years, it’s that Shields has progressed as a songwriter, especially in the songs he wrote for Bilinda Butcher.

“Nothing Is” in my opinion should have been left a B side, and replaced with another pop song. It is a relentlessly repetitive loop that gets slightly louder and then ends. It would be fun to hear them play it live, but compared to the more fully composed songs it comes off as a piss take.

ValentineIf you’re at all a fan it’s worth tracking down the Tape Op interview where he describes his recording techniques. It’s easy listening to MBV to feel like there’s something complicated there, but once you know how simply he recorded the music it’s more impressive — there aren’t a whole bunch of overdubs — he spends time getting the sound he wants, and he might have 4 tracks of different microphones on a guitar cabinet, but compared to a Beyonce record they’re very simple and transparent.
Image stolen from Mojo Magazine without permission.

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4 Responses to My Bloody Valentine “M B V” Review.

  1. Such a great band, my friends and I were obsessed and saw them back in ’93 I think in Boston. I was deaf for about a week. My bandmate was slowing down and speeding up guitar sounds on his little Macintosh classic in 1992 and he would trigger samples with the mouse while playing guitar. Good times. I sit down every once in awhile and try to figure out how they got some of the more nebulous sounds on the album. I pretty much always walk away cursing- just ain’t gonna happen.

    • chaircrusher says:

      As I said, you can glean a lot from the TapeOp article — you can order a digital back issue on tape op’s website, they haven’t posted the full text there.

      Googling ‘kevin shields guitar rig’ is instructive, but my thoughts after meditating on the sound is that he does an awful lot with microphone placement — putting multiple mics on the amp. Some forums say a lot of it comes down to Alesis Midiverb Reverse Reverb presets. You get a lot of the MBV wall of sound by putting a guitar through any reverb and then distorting it.

      With the new record Shields has obviously spent a lot of time on getting very particular tones, but each sound doesn’t sound like it’s that complicated — there’s a lot of Guitar->Fuzz->EQ->Some effect (Phaser/Flanger/Reverb) but nothing notably more complex than what the average amateur has laying around.

  2. d.w. says:

    Totally sexist observation: Bilinda Butcher is still adorable, 22 years on.

    • chaircrusher says:

      I think a new Betty/Veronica divide is happening here. Belinda is a cute woman, but Debbie Googe has a certain butch/badass je ne sais quoi.

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