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My Bloody Valentine

m b v

Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., Feb. 22, 2013

Phases & Stages

My Bloody Valentine

m b v

Expectations are loaded weapons, often building up unstably only to backfire. Kevin Shields thrives on that tension and remains a master of its subversion, an exercise requiring such precision that everything outside it seemingly dissolves into chaos. Thus the arrival of m b v, My Bloody Valentine's third LP and 22-year follow-up to 1991 pinnacle Loveless, was expectedly unexpected – its imminent release teased for years before suddenly appearing for download on the band's website at the beginning of the month. To be sure, m b v can't compare to Loveless, a singular achievement in walls of sound that obliterated so-called "shoegaze" guitar psychedelia by driving it to its edges and imploding back all-enveloping. The new album rebuilds from those same stem cells, announced in the genesis of warm fuzz that trembles at the outset of opener "She Found Now." Shields guides the listener back to the world to move beyond it, pop hooks buried by the raw scruff of "Only Tomorrow" and warping tourniquet of "Who Sees You." By the time Bilinda Butcher faintly coos in the maddeningly monotonous builds of "If This and Yes" and "If I Am," the Irish quartet has shifted outside the tide of guitars to reach the percussion dominated "New You." Only in its final trinity, however, does m b v achieve new catechisms of sound. The electronic sting and assaulting blitzkrieg of "In Another Way" and percussive annihilation of "Nothing Is" ascend into the mechanical whoosh of "Wonder 2," a terrifying postindustrial birth of sound. Overwhelmingly subtle and crushingly consuming, m b v delivers beauty in the slightest shifts and drama in its calculatedly awkward movements.

***.5

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