Vinyl love: My Bloody Valentine “Loveless”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: My Bloody Valentine
Album Title: Loveless
Year released: 1991
Year reissued: 2018
Details: 180 gram, gatefold sleeve

The skinny: Back on Thursday, I started a new series that I plan to drag out for full enjoyment because, yeah, I am counting down my favourite albums of one of my favourite years for music. If you love the early 1990s as I do, definitely check it out. But I will forewarn from you now, as I did on that same post, this iconic album by shoegaze noisemakers My Bloody Valentine was one of a handful of very influential albums that I just couldn’t make fit into my top ten. (Indeed, our fellow blogging friend at Aphoristic Album Reviews was nearly as surprised at this as I was.) However, rest assured that “Loveless” was very. very, very close to making the cut. It is an album of which that I liked only some of its songs back in the day but in the thirty years that have since passed, it has grown so much in my esteem, that now nearly every tune within is a classic. Indeed, I am very glad to have acted fast on the pre-order for this record back in 2018. I remember catching wind that that Kevin Shields was reissuing the group’s first two records on vinyl, doing the remastering himself using some esoteric analogue process that my own tiny brain can’t comprehend. Notwithstanding, it is a very sweet listen, intense and clear, well, as clear as it was meant to be. And the fact that the album cover arrived a little bent out of shape in the post doesn’t even bother me that much. The disc is perfect and that’s what matters.

Standout track: “Only shallow”


Best tunes of 1991: #20 My Bloody Valentine “Only shallow”

<< #21    |    #19 >>

1991’s “Loveless” is largely considered to My Bloody Valentine’s masterpiece. The band’s second album was recorded over a two to three year period, going through numerous studios and even more sound engineers, and causing a rift between the band and Creation label owner Alan McGee (who claimed the album nearly bankrupted him) in the process. Kevin Shields was either insane or a genius, depending on who you ask. He was obviously on to something in his mad scientist laboratory, concocting new and inventive ways of recording and making noise with his guitars. Despite not selling as well as expected, the album was lauded by critics, baffled the band’s peers at the time, and inspired generations of musicians.

You would think given the album’s legendary and god-like status in the shoegaze pantheon that yours truly would have loved it from the start. But not so. I tried and failed many times throughout the nineties to find value in the noise because I knew (I KNEW) it was in there somewhere. I think it finally took seeing a VHS on the shelf at my friend Alex’s apartment, live performances by the band (that also included Jesus and Mary Chain and maybe Blur?), and asking to put it on while we sat around drinking. My friend shrugged, it was his roommate’s tape and a little out of his jazz oeuvre. I remember that we were all pretty jarred by it, as out of our heads as we were by that point in the evening, and also quite jazzed (pun intended her).

“Only shallow” is the opening track and is a nuke to the head. The crunchiest guitars ever charge in and out during its duration, threatening to blow out any speakers not set at a minimum. The drum beat is merely a metronome that keeps vocalist Blinda Butcher on track. Her voice is breathy and sounding like it’s been run through a million effects pedals and distortion, and her words unintelligible, not that they really matter here. The guitars and the utterly destructive noise they create is the raison d’être.

And yes, it’s a great tune. It took almost a decade to realize it and to dig through the viscous noise haze, but that made finding the beauty and order in the chaos that much more satisfying.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 1991 list, click here.