News of the imminent release of the new My Bloody Valentine album spread quickly on the internet, and thoughts of the day’s sports results, and shouldn’t I really be out on a Saturday night, quickly turned to, here is an event happening right here in front of me on my PC. Midnight came, and the album was supposed to be available, but instead, the site remained inaccessible, and rather than wait, I went to bed, resolving that getting hold of the album would be my first priority on waking up.
True to my word, I went straight to the new MBV site in the morning, and there it was. However, my first thought rather than to immediately pay to download it was – is it on youtube yet? Sure enough, it was – the band appeared to have put each track of the album on youtube at about 5am! Well, no doubt for around 5 hours cash was streaming into the mbv account faster than an online poker site, and I did not feel too much guilt, with that being the case, about downloading each track via a youtube converter for my own consumption. I don’t suppose the band would have minded too much – if they hadn’t expected people to do this, wouldn’t they have just streamed the tracks so you couldn’t download them, rather than put them on youtube? – and they had made the audio of the youtube versions slightly inferior, perhaps with this in mind.
So anyway, to the important business: the album itself. I think the first thing to consider is the context of this release. Loveless, the band’s last album, released all the way back in 1991 was, sonically, an album that was quite unlike anything you had ever heard before. The whole story about the way it was recorded – the cost of it, the length of time it had taken, the fact it almost bankrupted Creation Records – was great, too. But the context was that it was released at a time when indie music was thriving. The NME was still a very well-read paper, John Peel was big, people were going out and buying indie records, whether it was the new one by the Pixies, The Family Cat, Carter, Teenage Fanclub, The Hinnies – whoever. It was a big scene, but it was still a bit of a closed scene. If you were not into the indie scene, at that time, you would have had very little interest in the new My Bloody Valentine album. But still, it was an album that created a bit of a stir.
The context of the release of mbv is that that scene is pretty much dead. The NME’s circulation has plummeted. There is no one DJ who people rely on for inspiration. People aren’t really buying music much. In my opinion, the biggest scene at the moment probably is the internet scene. This includes people who are into music, but it includes people who are into all sorts of things that they get excited about and share online. So I think the context of this release is that it definitely fits in with the current scene. The fact that it’s created such a big stir online is very fitting. And yet, perhaps the band are just about to blow things apart again. Due to the fact that just about everybody lives online, someone whose favourite song might be Gangnam Style is equally as likely to see a post about this album and want to be part of the hype as a cassette-playing C86 obsessive. And yet, they were all unaware that the safe world they had been living in was about to be torn apart again by My Bloody Valentine.
If Loveless sounded like nothing you’d ever heard before, then mbv sounds like nothing you’ve ever heard before, bar Loveless. The first reaction by any kids caught unaware will instantly be “What the fuck is that?” And you can’t fault that as a first reaction. This album is about as far removed from easy listening as you can get, perhaps difficult listening is the phrase.