22 years elapsed between My Bloody Valentine’s iconic second album Loveless and their third, MBV. 22 years is an insanely long time. It’s longer than the duration between “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and John Lennon’s four-years-posthumous album Milk and Honey. To find themselves in MBV territory, The Wrens would have to wait another five full years from now to put out their next record. When Loveless came out, the Soviet Union still technically existed for another month. Etc.
The other funny thing is that a significant portion of MBV was recorded in 1996. Waiting on frontman/producer Kevin Shields to make progress was so torturous his band quit on him in 1997, and who could blame them? It had been six years since their last album! Shields finally decided to finish the record properly in 2006. Then he spent ANOTHER six years working on it.
Sorry this post is mostly math. What I’m getting at is it’s hard to make the case that MBV represents 2010s music. That the album was technically finished in this decade feels almost beside the point. You could argue this is one of the great records of the ‘90s, which just happened to take 22 years to make it out the door.
And yet, that’s not quite accurate either. As much as Loveless is considered one of the most influential albums of the ‘90s and the pinnacle of shoegaze, no one ever came close to successfully imitating its sound. It’s properly timeless, an enchanting and baffling wall of noise and melody that doesn’t sound like anything but itself, and that’s entirely because of Kevin Shields’ obsessive perfectionism. While other musicians work under the shadow of mortality and the knowledge that you can only record so much while you’re still young enough for people to care, Shields sonically erodes the Grand Canyon. What decade does MBV belong to is a nonsense question; we’re lucky it can be observed in the span of a human lifetime.
Like all My Bloody Valentine songs, “Only Tomorrow” is best enjoyed on headphones, loud. Let it batter your ears, it’s earned it.