100 Greatest Albums of the 90’s: #4

My Bloody Valentine – Loveless

Don’t worry, you have nothing to fear; read the band name again: it says “My Bloody Valentine” and not “Bullet For My Valentine”. No I haven’t started favouring Bullet For My Valentine, peddlers of  “mother, look how angst I am” screamo, listened to by hoards of people trying to be different who end up all looking exactly the same. No My Bloody Valentine are something very different. Starting in Dublin, they churned out bog-standard fuzzy goth to an audience of very few. After a few line-up changes they emerged again with some great songs under their belt and a set of weapons-grade effects pedals. The ‘You Made Me Realise’ EP was a sludgy, seasick chug through the jet-stream, whereas the ‘Isn’t Anything’ LP expanded on this sound to make towers of shivering reverb and fuzz that sounded halfway between standing next to an incoming underground train and lying semi-conscious at a busy party wondering why no one was putting you in the recovery position. The lyrics usually alluded to sex and what sounds occasionally like the drugs that the music itself hinted at. Even with these brilliant statements, they were yet to release their defining piece of work; perhaps the album that pushed the boundaries of what a guitar could do right over the edge. Two years, many hired-and-fired producers and thousands upon thousands of pounds later, ‘Loveless’ emerged. The cost of it was rumoured to cause a nervous breakdown in the head of Creation records, not to mention the company’s near-bankruptcy, “but in the end, they got a record out of it.” shrugs bandleader Kevin Shields. They certainly did, Kevin. ‘Loveless’ is like a bullet train made of roughly stuffed eider down. Each melody is memorable, each sound is inebriating; it’s a sickly celestial blur of roars and purrs. The lyrics become buried in the rolling walls of sound hanging there as lone human voices tossed upon ravenous waves. It’s soft and weirdly sensual, but powerful and exhilarating. The songs themselves fan out and become more distinctive with every listen, but everyone seems to have their favourites. There are subtle influences imbibed in all the details; there are acoustic influences on ‘Sometimes’, dance influences on ‘Soon’, avant-garde influences on the bizarre one-minute ‘Touched’ and dream-pop sparks on ‘Blown A Wish’, but throughout, if you squint, it still sounds (nearly) like rock music. Some people just will not get this record at all and I admit I didn’t at first, but I kept trying and here it is, number four in this countdown, so they must have done something right along the line. Even though the band have never broken up, the sequel to this glorious anomaly is still annoyingly absent, and judging by their notoriously slow working methods, the fact that the ‘Loveless’ remaster release date has been pushed back three times and the fact that Kevin Shields always looks more chilled-out than is natural in all his interviews, I wouldn’t hold your breath.

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