On Saturday night, shoegaze heroes My Bloody Valentine broke the Internet.
Some background for those who don’t know what I’m talking about, in Nov. 1991, the Irish alternative rock group released their second album, “Loveless.” The album was seen as a landmark work in shoegaze, a style defined by its walls of distortion, feedback and reverb. The term comes from band members “gazing” at their shoes while operating the guitar pedals at their feet.
Due to various problems after “Loveless,” the band eventually broke up. However, they’ve been touring in recent years and during a Jan. 27 concert, frontman Kevin Shields told the crowd that a new My Bloody Valentine album “might be out in two or three days.” Sure enough, on Feb. 2 at 4:18 p.m., a status was posted to the group’s Facebook page that read, “We are preparing to go live with the new album/website this evening. We will make an announcement as soon as its [sic] up.”
The madness really started at 6:57 p.m. that night, when they posted another status: “The album is now live on Www.mybloodyvalentine.org.”
Almost immediately after the band posted the link, their website crashed and was inaccessible. Fans, some of whom had been waiting 22 years for this album, were understandably frustrated.
As for myself, I only had a passing interest in the group prior to Saturday night. I had listened to “Loveless” a few times before because, as I said, it’s kind of a legendary record. It’s been high up on numerous best albums of the ’90s lists and was included as one of Rolling Stone’s top 500 albums of all time, so there was no way I could ignore it.
The release of the new album, entitled “MBV,” was something I wanted to be a part of because this sense of community in music doesn’t come around as often as it used to.
With the increased availability of every kind of music imaginable at the drop of a hat, it becomes more rare that everybody is listening to the same music at the same time — like how it used to be before the Internet. This release brought a big part of the music-listening public together, or at least indie fans.
When we heard about the album, we got amped up together. When the site crashed, we all cracked jokes together about Shields being an evil entity, or the album actually being called “404” after the HTML error message users saw when trying to access the site. At about 10:10 p.m., when the site was finally working, we rejoiced together and rushed to listen to the album.
Admittedly, I wasn’t as in love with “Loveless” as the rest of the world, so while waiting for “MBV” to become accessible, I gave it another spin and finally appreciated it for the important album that it is. The record is a crunch-heavy wall of sound, like a bomb going off in your face, except the explosion lasts 50 minutes, and you start to enjoy it once your ears acclimate to the immensity of it all.
“MBV,” while not a rehash of “Loveless,” picks up exactly where it left off. A little more focused than its predecessor, the album is also slightly more varied, which is important for a record whose main feature is a near-constant big-guitar drone. That has the potential to just kill your ears, but the constant presence actually creates a sense of calm.
As a relatively new My Bloody Valentine fan, I am not as affected by the cultural bias towards “Loveless,” so as objectively as I possibly can, I say that “MBV” is the better of the two.
I’m sure most of you disagree, which is absolutely fine. You can call me an idiot, put this paper down or close this browser window and, for the first time in 22 years, listen to a new My Bloody Valentine album; so who cares what I say?