Love how every review on m b v has some personal life story about how that particular reviewer was browsing his computer on a Saturday night (read: getting multiple porn tabs ready for his date with Palmela Handerson) and half-heartedly browsing through [enter social networking site here] when he realized that the new m b v was available for download. He almost didn’t believe it, quickly pulling up his boxers with his right hand while typing Ctrl + T with his left hand in the ambidextrous deftness that only a chronic masturbator would have, then looking for any available link. “This site is currently not available.” Ctrl + R. “This site is currently not available.” Palmela Handerson’s getting impatient. Ctrl + R. Please wait 30 seconds. Captcha. Click button to download. Downloading. Open [enter media player here]. Play. Music. Euphoria.
This is not what happened to me. No, I was actually out on the Saturday this was released (great night; fond memories), and I couldn’t have been more apathetic when I heard the news the next day. I suppose, it is unavoidable to talk about m b v without mentioning just how long it took. You know what’s happened since 1991? Other shoegaze bands. The death of showgaze. MSN messenger. 9/11. Facebook. The death of MSN messenger. The re-emergence of shoegaze. Look: I’ll be outright here, I was never won over by shoegaze because its melodic capabilities were never as great as its fanboys would suggest. Here, the melodies are even less melodic and the noise even more muddier to hide that fact; scrub the noise away and play these songs, I dare you. (Not to mention the fact that these songs are longer on average than they were on Loveless … why is that?) Kevin Shields hasn’t written a vocal melody or lyrics as great as Slowdive’s “Alison” (or Ride’s “Vapour Trail”); frankly, the only field where I’d consider him a genius is ability to be a cocktease. Meanwhile, Bilinda Butcher, the token female understudy, who doesn’t get lead vocals on this album as much as she should (only on two tracks: “If I Am” and “New You”), is no Rachel Goswell … lyrically, vocally, looks-wise.
In one of two of its reviews for the album, popmatters’ Aj Ramirez very astutely wrote, “[m b v] is a good album, but not a great one, and though the long tail of history will eventually render such a long production time moot, it’s certainly not a record justifying the ludicrous wait. Take away the distance and compare m b v to Loveless(as well as its predecessor, Isn’t Anything), and it comes up short. Where Isn’t Anything and Loveless were bold steps forward, m b v is a holding pattern, maintaining a style certain to please those who desperately craved Loveless, Pt. 2.” One of the commenters on that page wrote in response, “The final 3 tracks are unlike any of Shields’ previous work and sound nothing like Loveless.” Absolutely right, you are: “In Another Way” and “Nothing Is,” both finding itself on the last stretch, are proof that Kevin Shields learned some new tricks in the past twenty-two years, which, coincidentally and ironically have become old tricks because other people have already done them in the interim (and let’s be honest here: adding bigger beats wasn’t that interesting an idea in the first place). The guitar noises in “In Another Way” are actually annoying, and though the way the bass just leans into the drums in “Nothing Is” is nifty, it’s nifty for about two full measures, not for over three minutes. Who knew that we’d need Kevin Shields singing something – anything – to distract us?
Final thought: I can’t be the only one who noticed that “Who Sees You” is “Only Shallow” that’s afraid to be as loud (read: as elephant-like) as “Only Shallow,” am I? I mean, listen to that enter: drums, enter: guitar textures format. Is that the same tempo? Oh, is it 1991 again? Are we going to forgive fellow Dublin band U2 for doing the same old shtick that they did twenty-two years ago? Unlikely. Is it because Bono had the decency of making new music (regardless of quality) on a regular basis instead of making the world wait with baited breath? Probably.