‘A lot of things can change in that amount of time; except that is Kevin Shields’
There is one thing no critic can take away from My Bloody Valentine and that is that the three little letters ‘m b v’ can still grab huge attention and consequently, now break the internet.
It’s been two decades of anticipation for any fans of wistful shoe-gaze, waiting for a follow up to the seminal ‘Loveless’. A lot of things can change in that amount of time; except that is Kevin Shields who it seems as though you could set your watch by, if you were wishing to set that watch for 1994. From the opening ‘she found now’, you are hit by a drowning gush of reverb and distortion that lets you know that you’re in familiar territory and you don’t leave that familiar hum and drone for the entirety of the record.
This is not to say that the songs on ‘m b v’ are bad imitations of old favourites, many have attempted to copy the all-engulfing guitar of My Bloody Valentine (The Horrors’ ‘Primary Colours‘) and none have ever bested the original, which is maybe why Kevin Shields has taken no steps to push the sound in any other direction. But an ‘ain’t broke, don’t fix it‘ attitude is not going to set the world alight, especially when a loyal fan base has waited so long to see what they do next and were not expecting a mid-90s time capsule.
The album lacks courage. Even the album title, the band’s initials in lower case, shows cowardice. A lack of wanting to add any new semantics to the established image, almost as if Kevin Shields is scared that by adding anything to the MBV formula now, he may break the spell. It is lack of a courage that you saw from bands of a similar ilk and time away such as Portishead, who did not rest on the well-received tricks of yesteryear but instead pushed into darker, more mechanical soundscapes with their later release.
‘m b v’ is not necessarily a disappointment but neither is it a triumphant return. It’s worse than bad; it’s unforgivably safe. There’ll be no raised eyebrows to the song choices which, to anyone but the adoring, would be difficult to pick out of a ‘Loveless’ line-up. The only question raised by this new release is what exactly has Kevin Shields done with the past two decades?