Wednesday, February 06, 2013

bloody valentine's day again

It had been so long (22 years in fact) that no-one really believed it would ever happen, myself included, but suddenly last week Kevin Shields casually let slip that the new My Bloody Valentine album, the follow-up to 1991's legendary Loveless, could be out in "two or three days". Given his somewhat flexible attitude to deadlines in the past this was viewed with a degree of scepticism by most, but lo and behold on Saturday a new website appeared where the album could be purchased and downloaded. And purchase and download is exactly what I've just done: 13 quid for a digital download which is happening RIGHT NOW and a CD which will be in the post in a week or two. The individual tracks are available on YouTube as well, but I would reiterate the point that this is music that benefits from a bit of volume and full frequency-range reproduction, so you may not get the full effect through a set of tinny old computer speakers. The only track I've listened to yet is the album opener She Found Now, which is a mellow yet distorted number very much in the vein of Loveless's Sometimes, which is in no way a bad thing.

The reviews I've read have been generally complimentary to a pantingly moist degree, which is obviously more encouraging than everyone thinking it was utterly shit, but at the same time you wonder how much rock critics who have been writing about Loveless for the last 22 years might have emotionally invested in the new album being good, or at least worthy of another 22 years of critical essays. We'll see.

So, as with Tutti Frutti and Whoops Apocalypse, now I have to find something new to fret about. So here it is: can we please have a follow-up to Neutral Milk Hotel's remarkable 1998 album In The Aeroplane Over The Sea? This couldn't be more different from Loveless, based as it is mostly around Jeff Mangum's acoustic guitar, plaintive vocals and frankly barking lyrics (apparently a lot of it was inspired by the story of Anne Frank, but it's far from obvious) with various odd instrumentation layered over the top. Actually the album this reminds me strongly of is Gene Clark's No Other, not because they sound particularly similar but because they share the same sense of having been made obsessively in a darkened room with no concern at all for what any other contemporary albums sounded like or what anyone else was doing. And they both feature as a centrepiece a largely acoustic 8-minute song (Some Misunderstanding there, Oh Comely here). In a coincidental parallel with the My Bloody Valentine story, Jeff Mangum has recently emerged from a decade or so of reclusivity to play a few gigs. An album next? Who knows.

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