At last, the review of My Bloody Valentine’s genre-spawning, highly lauded and influential 1991 release Loveless.
My Bloody Valentine didn’t just one day pull the new shoegaze genre out of thin air; the band had been crafting their sound since their formation in 1983. This process was expedited with their two fabulous 1988 releases, You Made Me Realise and Isn’t Anything. By 1991, the process was complete: the band released their masterpiece Loveless to widespread critical acclaim.
Loveless was a sonic feat. No other album, besides the Jesus and Mary Chain’s Psychocandy, had ever come close to replicating the noisy, guitar-filled, and smooth sound that Kevin Shields crafted on Loveless. The album was rumored to cost about £250,000 ($444,375 in November 1991). However, this claim has been disputed.
If the album did indeed cost £250,000 to produce, every pound of it paid off. Loveless is a dense, lush, beautiful set of songs that are psychedelic and utterly transformative. It’s like visiting a world with neon pink clouds and molasses instead of water.
The album kicks off with one of its heaviest tracks, Only Shallow, with its iconic four hits on the snare drum. However, unlike Isn’t Anything, the drums don’t play a huge role in this album. Kevin Shields was fascinated with the up-and-coming UK dance scene, so many of the drums are static and, unlike dance music, placed low in the mix. The album is carried by the many, many layers of distorted guitars, courtesy of Kevin Shields.
Lyrically, this album is kind of nonsensical. Songs deal with love and longing, hope and blossoming relationships. Bilinda Butcher, the bassist, said that she would wake up before recording sessions and improvise her lyrics based on her dreams. It makes for a nice sound. Like black metal, the lyrics serve as a texture in the music. It’s almost impossible to hear what Kevin or Bilinda are singing at any given time.
Loveless is easily the best album of 1991, one of the best albums of the 1990s, and one of the greatest of all time, in my opinion. This masterpiece deserves repeated listens and will be enjoyed for years to come.
Scott’s Spectacular Song Selections include: “Only Shallow”, “To Here Knows When”, “When You Sleep”, “I Only Said”, “Come in Alone”, “Sometimes”, “Blown a Wish”, “What You Want”, and “Soon”.