Album review: My Bloody Valentine, mbv (

Simon Price
Sunday 10 February 2013 01:00

What's he building in there? This. For 22 years, the unproductivity of Kevin Shields and MBV has been one of rock's running jokes. Suddenly, late last weekend, mbv was sprung upon a startled world. And, as befits a band who last recorded in the age of attention spans, it's an album that demands you switch off your smartphone and immerse.

Closer in sound to 1988's Isn't Anything than 1991's Loveless, it has accessible entry-points and startling moments: such as the reverse swoon midway through "Only Tomorrow" which gives your heart the bends.

But mbv is irreducible to mere instalments. A substance unto itself, it's a deliciously hypnagogic miasma of softly whispered vocals, pummelling looped grooves and Shields' trademark "glide guitar". Melody is never a slave to the rhythm and it all moves with the woozy warp of off-centre vinyl, of flat batteries and stretched tape.

Despite being one of the most namechecked bands in history, nobody else sounds like this. Neither old-fashioned nor modern, My Bloody Valentine stand apart, out of time. And mbv leaves all other post-rock experimentalists looking like trivial dilettantes. If jet engines could sing, these would be their hymns.

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