New Band of the Month: November – Reflection

For the tenth month of the New Band feature, I selected shoegaze pioneers, My Bloody Valentine (read my initial thoughts here).

Did I finally get why Loveless is held in such high regard?

To truly appreciate Loveless, I think it’s not as important to listen to it in the context of the year it came out (1991) but instead, listen to it alongside My Bloody Valentine’s only other full LP, Isn’t Anything. It’s not just that the production value takes a considerable step up. The songs on the latter album are light years beyond the band’s debut. Isn’t Anything sounds like every generic, hookless, lifeless garage rock album your buddies ever recorded. It’s one of those albums where it seems to have been recorded expressly to be everything anti-pop, and in doing so it became anti-listenable.

But, that’s okay, because Loveless really is a very good (I might even lean towards great) album, where the anti-pop sheen works in its favor, not against it. There aren’t hooks or big choruses, and what melodies exist are usually foreboding or stuck in stasis, but the overall feeling is something romantic and sad, nostalgic but pessimistic.

As a writer, I have a hard time getting into music without lyrics or where the lyrics are very muddled (Sigur Ròs and some Classical music being an exception). I connect to music through the words. Loveless is an album where even on the rare song where the lyrics are pushed to the forefront of the mix, they are still mostly indecipherable. Yes, I can look up the lyrics and listen along (which I did) but that’s not as engaging a listening experience as just letting the music flow over me. Despite this characteristic, though, when I actually took the time to listen to the music, I found it too thoroughly beguiling to dismiss.

That the lyrics are so ambiguous only adds to the overall atmosphere and creates one of those listening experiences where the listener truly defines what each song means.

Will I Buy An Album?  I will definitely pick up (that is, download) Loveless in the near future. It’s not an album I would listen to all the time, but I can imagine it soundtracking a solitary, cold winter’s day in Brooklyn and that is perhaps the most romantic/sad thing ever.

Favorite Song: When You Sleep” and “I Only Said” are the two stand out tracks for me on Loveless. I find that most of the songs have a melody or repeating guitar riff that I find addictive, but I think these two songs do it best. If I had to choose between the two, I’d go with the latter, but it’s one of the instances where the songs work best when played back-to-back, as on the album.

My Bloody Valentine

Next Month: Ending 2012 With A Bang/Pop/Whimper?