My Bloody Valentine: m b v (Self-Released)

Shoegaze juggernauts My Bloody Valentine did themselves no favors by waiting nearly 22 years to release a follow-up to Loveless, the group's unimpeachable classic of wailing guitars, lush drones, and soporific vocals.

Therefore, even as good as m b v is (and it is), it cannot help but pale in comparison to either Loveless or Isn't Anything—the group's other sonic masterpiece.

The chunky guitar strums, pulsating feedback, and tunnel-whispered vocals of Kevin Shields on opener "She Found now" start things off strongly. The following track, "Only Tomorrow," is perhaps the album's highlight; a total headphone masterpiece.

As the album's only serene track, "Is This and Yes" is an anxious lullaby set to skittering, twinkling electronics and Bilinda Butcher's sleepy incantations. The song plays like a merger between Isn't Anything's "No More Sorry" and Loveless' "Blown a Wish" set to the specifications of the 21st Century. Still, the band remains strongest when it sounds as though they are running their instruments through a meat grinder, on the hazy "Who Sees You," or using them to power a locomotive, with the pop-lock crunch of "Nothing Is."

Ultimately, the incandescent melodies and soothing march-step of "New You," a gliding mid-tempo number, make for another stellar track—though, naturally, it sounds like a shoegaze anthem from 1992. Whether the album's relative safeness is due to Shields' perfectionism or general procrastination is hard to discern and ultimately inconsequential. What matters, in the end, is that m b v neither dishonors the group nor its canon.

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