In 1991 I was in first grade. Being 29 now, I somehow got caught between releases from My Bloody Valentine in the worst possible way.
I’ve been looking around for context to a dilemma not many people face. I want to feel a connection to the story of My Bloody Valentine finally, after 22 years, releasing a follow up to what fans describe as a perfect album, but I don’t. I’d rather be elated or filled with disgust than indifferent to the music people have been waiting so long to hear. I’d love to meaningfully contribute my opinions to the discussion, but I can’t. For an outsider like myself there was no hype, there were no premeditated thoughts, the album was just suddenly released.
Not wanting to just sit by I opened Spotify and listened to ‘Loveless’, the band’s last album that was released back in 1991. My initial reaction, like I suspect a lot of people’s was, even if they don’t say it, “I don’t get it.” “It’s just a lot of noise.” As I continued to listen, forced by my determination and desire to understand the band’s popularity, I began to hear a glimmer of a hope. Let me interrupt myself here to say that talking about what music you do and don’t like fits right between politics and religion on the scale of dangerous conversation so I’ll try to pick my words carefully. “When You Sleep” contains some of the album’s most overtly catchy music, but it wasn’t that song that opened the door. It was actually the instrumental section of “Sometimes” that forced an immediate replay of the song, which in turn forced the replay of other songs. It was at that point I was starting to hear what many before me had heard. I didn’t come away from my time with the album a changed person, someone loving every moment of every track, but it’s good music. And if you were 18 years old when ‘Loveless’ came out, I can absolutely see how you devoured it and soaked up every second of every song.
I was a little excited to move onto ’m b v', the band’s new album. I now had a baseline with which to set my expectations for the music that apparently falls under a genre labeled ‘shoegaze’. “Only Tomorrow” with its hypnotic instrumental section felt similar to what “Sometimes” offered, yet without the same final effect of needing to replay it. In fact, after listening through the songs knowing I probably wouldn’t connect immediately, but thinking there would be a spark that changed my mind, I was left empty handed. The music is similar enough not to alienate previous fans, but different enough to give them years of enjoyment.
People who get My Bloody Valentine, really get them. They connect to the static-y rhythms in a way that the other half doesn’t. Because if you don’t understand what makes My Bloody Valentine great, then you clearly live on a different wavelength, and that’s OK. I still don’t know where I fall on that spectrum, but I’m beginning to want the static-y pulse in my veins. This isn’t a review. It’s not criticism or praise, merely an experience and some observations from someone trying to connect to the music. Were circumstances against you as well, have you dug into what the band has to offer?