My Bloody Valentine's reputation for tardiness is well earned. I dimly remember rushing off to interview them around the release of their second album, Loveless, then having to wait ages for bandleader Kevin Shields to arrive. Back then, concerned parties were already worrying about the long gap since their debut, Isn't Anything, three years earlier.
But Shields and his colleagues were playing a longer game than that: 22 years on from Loveless, this week their third album m b v suddenly appeared for download on the band's website. As before, it's a woozy, deceptively desultory experience, with all sonic elements – and the dreamy murmur-whispers of Bilinda Butcher (above) and Shields buried deep inside – conspiring to keep tracks like “she found now”, “only tomorrow” and “who sees you” free from anchorage.
Those tracks follow fairly seamlessly on from MBV's previous work, but thereafter subtle changes are applied that tug the album into pastures new. The soothing organ bed, quiet tom-tom pulse and wordless vocal tones of “is this and yes” are akin to a palate-cleansing sorbet, and the lovely “new you” dispenses with the grainy textures completely, allowing the guitar and organ to buoy the song almost into mainstream indie-pop territory.
But it's the final three tracks that suggest a more purposive attitude. The woozy guitars and soft vocal of “in another way” are harnessed to a fast funk drum track, while “nothing is” is an exercise in krautrock minimalism, its hypnotic, single-purpose riff subjected to only the most minute of mixing-desk tweaks for its entire length.
It's just one reason why the audiophile vinyl option may be the best way to experience m b v, in order to help listeners pick their way through the blur of sound-assistance that seems even more necessary for the climactic “wonder 2”, whose skittering drums and slowly soaring flange effects whirl around deliriously for six minutes. But it's all about aspect and context, of course: as The Pop Group once proclaimed, only the intense can dance standing still.
Download: new you; only tomorrow; in another way; nothing is