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My Bloody Valentine

  • Isn't Anything,
  • Loveless,

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    My Bloody Valentine

    Isn't Anything 8 ( 1988 )
    Soft As Snow But Warm Inside / Lose My Breath / Cupid Come / When You Wake / No More Sorry / All I Need / Feed Me With Your Kiss / Sueisfine / Several Girls Galore / You Never Should / Nothing Much To Lose / I Can See It But I Can't Feel It

    My Bloody Valentine emerged in the mid-eighties as a struggling pop band. Infact, according to Alan McGhee who would end up signing them to his creation label, they were one of the worst bands he'd ever heard. Changes in line-up and gradual stylistic changes brought a break through. A series of ep's and a couple of mini-lp's surrounded the release of 'Isn't Anything', their debut LP proper. The sound of the group is difficult to explain, for 'Isn't Anything' we have pop melodies lurking beneath layers of guitars and noise and rock n roll drums. Vocals mixed with the instrumentation rather than up-front, so becoming just another instrument. 'You Made Me Realise' originally released a few months before 'Isn't Anything' had proved to be the big critical breakthrough. Furiously aggressive, utterly melodic, a slice of near genius. The band had been focusing on a song titled 'Slow', when the EP was released, everyone went nuts for 'You Made Me Realise', a song that had its origins in group leader Kevin Shields trying to do a knock-off of Sonic Youth and accidently emerging with a brand new sound for his own group in the process.

    The opening 'Soft As Snow But Warm Inside', sole lead vocals by Kevin apart, is a good indicator of the type of sound the group produced. It's the sound of the group trying to fly to the sun and coming back with burnt wings, yet that reaching for something different was what set the group apart. After this inauspicious beginning, 'Lose My Breath' arrives so dreamy and soft, getting under skin after repeated plays. Subtle yet strong. 'When You Wake' flies closer to the sound of 'You Made Me Realise' than any of the songs prior to it on this LP. It's not as aggressive in a quiet/loud way, not as extreme, yet it mixes the vocals of Kevin and Belinda well. A couple of songs follow that are so quiet they seem barely there, more like painting in colours than writing using actual notes and defined structures.

    'Feed Me With Your Kiss' is propelled forwards by its bass-line and furious drumming whilst the guitars fuzz and distort in layers and the quiet vocals delicately pick out melodies you can barely hear beneath it all. Music made for people who do actually listen to music, rather than just have music playing in the background of their lives, you know, elevator music. However loud or quiet My Bloody Valentine songs are, however indistinct a piece may seem on initial listening, they always create music that you have to really LISTEN TO in order to appreciate it. 'Sueisfine' is glorious noise and glorious melody amid the glorious noise and following a few average songs, 'Nothing Much To Lose' picks up the album again. A unique guitar noise, aggression from the furious drum bursts giving way to quiet sections where the vocals arrive all plaintive. Mix it all together and something uncopyable emerges. The closing 'I Can See It But I Can't Feel It' ends the record on a suitably dreamy note, and there you have it. 'Isn't Anything', an album you can listen over and over to during the best bits, the weaker parts merely revealing a band still striving to perfect music that matched their soaring imaginations.

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    Readers Comments

    Chris Jones futureproof381@hotmail.com
    Isn't Anything is a fine album,and would probably get more attention if it hadn't been followed up by one of the 5 greatest albums ever made by anyone,ever,in the shape of 'Loveless'.

    Loveless( 1991 )
    Only Shallow / Loomer / Touched / To Here Knows When / When You Sleep / I Only Said / Come In Alone / Sometimes / Blown A Wish / What You Want / Soon

    Exponential rate of growth, stunted by lack of money and lack of creative freedom in a cruel record industry. Hence the lack of My Bloody Valentine material since this 'Loveless' LP. It's very little to do with the apparent cost of the album 'bankrupting' Creation Records. Creation were actually busy signing a deal with Sony Records. Signing deals with all sorts of people, because being an independant label in the early nineties in the UK was becoming every more difficult. This was a result of major labels snapping up indie-bands in the wake of 'madchester' and The Stone Roses in particular. The Stone Roses debut created a seismic shift in the entire nature of the UK music industry. One album. It's similar to the effect that Nirvana had in the US, similar in some ways. The most similar way is the fact that The Stone Roses were not at all influential or, indeed, important in the US. Nirvana were merely perceived as important in the UK, but we'd already had our revolution. In the meantime, My Bloody Valentine were trying to be perfectionists. The kind of perfection that soaring ambition led them from bloody amateur shitness through to greatness. The same reason why the band haven't released anything since, because since when could anybody reinvent music every two years? And, in truth, nobody has ever come close to what this album is trying to acheive, ever since. It spelt the death of 'shoegazing', the brief scene that 'Isn't Anything' and various My Bloody Valentine EP's had inspired. This was the ultimate death-knell for that scene, because where could you take it from here? 'Loveless' isn't an easy album, actually. It's not easy, at all. It will take you many, many listens. The best time to listen will be in that period between dream and awake, between states. I'm not being pretentious, at least, i'm not trying to. Real live drums were more or less axed from this recording, for example. They weren't good enough anymore, because even slightly resembling Sonic Youth or Jesus And Mary Chain, simply wasn't good enough anymore. If only todays bands could grasp an ounce of this sense and ambition?

    And, as such, eighty seven overdubbed guitars announce the arrival of 'Only Shallow'. Beautiful melodies provided by female vocals and guitars swimming around your utmost fantasies provide the key ingredient to 'Blown A Wish', one of the highlights here. Only a trained ear can make out the melodies. Everybody knows what i'm talking about, even the staunchest indie-fan once listened to John Peel on Radio One and proclaimed every single song 'just a noise'. Your ears become attuned. That's the key. Suddenly the gates open. The closing, near eight minute long 'Soon' sounds like 'You Made Me Realise' turned upto some kind of heavenly angel, beyond the Spinal Tap '11' by several million miles. If you understand what i'm trying to say? 'To Here Knows When' is like the blissful aftermath of an orgasm. Yet, not quite a perfect score. I can't explain why. Perhaps I just want to give Kevin Shields something to aim for?

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    Readers Comments

    Paul Malone kalekefir@yahoo.com
    Spot on I'd say. I remember buying this on LP a week after its release in '91 and I was going to bring it back to the record shop because I thought the vinyl was warped! Rewards patience ten times over and hopefully will earn a new army of fans through the movie 'Lost in Translation'which features 'Sometimes'. Great site by the way - I've been dropping in for a few months noe - but this is my first contribution. Keep up the good work.

    David Atkinson d.atkinson@maxfordham.com
    One of the greatest records ever made. An easy 10. 'Loveless' sounds like nothing before or since...how Kevin managed to wring those sounds out of the studio I will never know. Did he have these sounds in his head beforehand?Maybe we should ask all the sound engineers who fell by the wayside alomg the way. There tracks on the Glider EP of the same time that should be on here, the title track especially.

    Chris aether12@Yahoo.co.uk
    This is infinitely better than "Isn't Anything", which is an unremarkable indie album in the white-noise mould (Jesus & Mary Chain meet any generic 4AD band). Here is where "shoegazer" music was crystalised and canonised. Yet I feel it is more to be admired than enjoyed, although I could never part with it. I just think it's a tiny shade over-rated. Other bands DID produce BETTER shoegazer albums than this. Anyone who has heard Slowdive's "Souvlaki" album will know what I mean - "Souvlaki Space Station" is THE shoegazer track, better than anything on "Loveless", brilliant and unique though it is. MBV defined & perfected the blueprint - bands like Slowdive then pushed it forward to another level.

    Stephen Murphy writeme@stephenmurphy.com
    be honest. Its the dance-pop of 'Soon' which dates this otherwise exquisite record. The last track sounded like the furure at the time, but now sounds like the past, whereas every second of wooziness from Only Shallow onwards still sounds like tomorrow ... This is a glorious 9 3/4, a magnificent 9.9, but not a 10.

    Chris Jones futureproof381@hotmail.com
    Just to say,I completely agree with everything in this review-but I will say that anyone looking for more should buy the Lost In Translation soundtrack as there are 4 Kevin Shields tracks as well as the perfect Sometimes aka the greatest song of all time

    this page last updated 14/10/08

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