What’s the best way to follow up one of the finest sonic masterpieces of all time, according to My Bloody Valentine? Infuriate the music world for twenty years, before creating a frenzy with the most extraordinary album release of all time, putting the music industry on the backfoot and leaving everyone tripping over themselves to heap praise on the new album. ‘Loveless’ was released in 1991, and its brilliance seemed like too much of a burden for a follow-up to ever be released. ‘m b v’ has eventually seen the light of day, but comparisons with ‘Loveless’ are unavoidable, especially when nothing else sounds even remotely similar to either album.
‘m b v’ opens with the delicate we found now, full with the trademark wall of guitar noise and faint, undecipherable vocals. It’s a bold move to start the album with such a gentle song, but we found now serves as a reminder of what My Bloody Valentine are all about, in case we’d ever forgotten, and sets the tone for the rest of the album. only tomorrow is a beautiful track, with waves of guitar fuzz swirling round the soft vocals. Euphoric cries mark the change between the vocal and instrumental sections, and the slow deliberate guitar solo at the outro is one of the highlights of the album.
is this and yes features the use of keyboards, which suits My Bloody Valentine’s sound perfectly. Belinda Butcher’s vocals on this one are as eerie and haunting as Kevin Shields’ on the earlier tracks, and this song generates an angelic, peaceful atmosphere. if i am continues in this vein with its woozy vocals and of course the masterful guitar effects. This leads up to the brilliant new you, easily the most accessible track of the album. Driven by a powerful bassline rather than the guitars, new you features a strong melody on keyboards, and the breathless, harmonious vocals at the outro are stunning.
The final three tracks mark the biggest change from ‘Loveless’. The drums, largely confined to the background throughout this album and Loveless, take a much more prominent role. in another way starts rather aggressively with howling feedback and a relentless, rumbling drumbeat. These angrier guitar effects are balanced out by the gentle vocals in the verse, and the smooth keyboards in the chorus, creating a powerful yet tender atmosphere. nothing is features the same chord repeated throughout, again accompanied by the pounding drums. The song’s appeal lies in the subtle changes in the mix. Listen closely, and you can hear the drums becoming louder for one section, before fading out allowing the guitars to emerge as the focal point. wonder 2 is the most exotic and experimental track on the album, laced with guitar effects throughout, and held in shape by the unconventional drum beat. wonder 2 manages to be boundary-pushing while still retaining the distinctive My Bloody Valentine style.
On the surface, ‘m b v’ sounds like ‘Loveless’ part II, but on closer inspection there are many subtle differences, especially towards the end of the album. The vocals, while still faint and distant, are not quite as faraway as they were on ‘Loveless’ and the use of synths allows for even greater exploration of guitar sounds. ‘Loveless’ was a masterpiece, but it seemed tainted with the realisation that the likes of it would never be heard again.’ m b v’ is the ideal follow-up, acting as a continuation of the majesty of ‘Loveless’, but still creating an identity in its own right. ‘m b v’ is not only a truly wondrous album, but it also confirms the brilliance of ‘Loveless’. If ‘Loveless’ was a giant leap forward for music, then ‘m b v’ takes another few steps, and should be treasured and admired as much as its predecessor.