My Bloody Valentine – Loveless (1991)
Despite this record being the best part of 20 years old, it’s as dense and inpenetrable as ever. It’s like trying to explain why Jackson Pollock’s Full Fathom Five is what it is, or push the case for isolationist textures in modern sculpture or even trying to describe acid house to a badger. There really wasn’t, and still isn’t anything quite like My Bloody Valentine.
Formed in Dublin in 1984, My Bloody Valentine quickly moved from the C86 shambling indie template that had dominated that period. It took a slight shift in personnel and a contract with Creation. Within a week, the band recorded their landmark EP, You Made Me Realise, which nudged them more into the realm of the likes of Dinosaur Jr and Sonic Youth. Soon, giddy journos were gabbling on about sonic cathedrals and getting generally quite excited.
Within that year came the band’s first ‘proper’ album, Isn’t Anything. Shards of noise, underwater guitars and vague lyrics all combined with a certain disorientating charm. As if that wasn’t accomplishment enough, three years later via drama (it nearly bankrupted Creation), delays and added expectation came Loveless. It was the album that would lift MBV into the pantheon of the greats and in a perfect universe would be battling it out between Pet Sounds and OK Computer in the greatest-album-ever-made polls.
Despite urban myth surrounding the recording – they were recording in a tent covered in duvets, they’d gotten into hip hop, all the band went mad to varying degrees – it still sounds incredible. Washes of guitars and noise overwhelm what ‘songs’ were actually beneath them. Having tasted the Top 41 with the staggering Soon, they released what even Brian Eno then considered the: ”most vaguest song ever” in To Here Knows When. Creation thought the band were joking when they first heard it; sounding like someone had taped it on a wonky cassette player. In the context of Loveless, it makes sense, like one long bleary dream with almost symphonic levels of noise.
Now, the band are back and playing across the world, giving a new generation of ears a risk of tinnitus. There’s talk of a new album. For the meantime, get this magnificent masterpiece and play very very loud indeed. bbc