On Saturday, February 2, a seismic shock ran through the music world. Out of the blue, 22 years after the release of their zeitgeist defining masterpiece, Loveless, My Bloody Valentine dropped a new album on its unsuspecting fans. The release was not entirely without warning, as MBV mastermind Kevin Shields had said earlier in the week that the new album would be released shortly but, given his less than stellar track record, few actually expected him to come through. When it actually happened, legions of ecstatic music nerds flocked to the band’s site, (predictably) crashing it as they scrambled to be among the first to hear MBV.
So, hype aside, how is the actual album? It is a difficult question to answer. Few albums in history have arrived with the sort of high expectations placed on MBV. With each passing year the stature of Loveless has grown, attaining near mythical significance among pop music lovers and placing at or near the top of numerous lists of the best albums of the 1990s. Shields himself has also garnered nearly as much “reclusive genius” cred as Brian Wilson (and much more than Axl Rose). As such, it is impossible to assess the merits of MBV without considering the long shadow cast be its predecessor.