The Case Against My Bloody Valentine's mbv
Gotcha with the headline, but I'm not here to hate on mbv. I'm a fan. I've daydreamed a dozen Loveless follow-ups, but I wasn't satisfied with the ones in my head-- I needed to hear what Kevin Shields had crashing around in his. mbv is not quite what I hoped for and not quite what I expected, which is why it's such an exciting record: all my educated guesses based on the Lost in Translation soundtrack and the "Map Ref" cover and the jungle-obsessed interviews were slightly off the mark. mbv still surprised me constantly. I love it, and I'm glad many other fans are enjoying it as much.
I mean, it's unbelievable that the thing even exists. Daniel Brockman of the Boston Phoenix made my favorite comment on this: "It's like if Lucy let Charlie Brown kick the football."
It seems to me that a legendary band dropping a totally decent, arguably brilliant comeback out of nowhere-- after releasing only two tracks in the last 20 years-- would be a clear-cut cause for celebration. But there are a lot of grumps in the world, and m b v also provoked a huge run on the Internet's always-busy complaints department.
I thought it would be fun to take a closer look at some of these gripes and address them on relatively objective terms. I failed at objectivity, of course. Come to think of it, it wasn't even all that much fun: internalizing all this grousing was kind of a bummer, but it certainly left me with a better understanding of the record. Maybe you'll get something out of this too.
1. mbv isn't worth the wait.
Shortly after the album's release, The Guardian ran a poll to ask whether fans thought the record was worth the wait. 96% of respondents gave it a thumbs-up; I'm bummed for the other four percent, because the weight of their expectations may be preventing them from enjoying a very good album.
Sadly, this complaint has merit whether you agree with it or not. The wait clearly spoiled the record for many people, and the band bears much of the blame: there's no agreed-upon standard for how long an album should take to record, but I think we can all agree that this shit was a little unreasonable. Decades of anticipation (or even five years, if you're not an old person) can swell anyone's expectations all out of proportion.
Among rock's most anticipated comebacks, I don't think anyone could legitimately claim that mbv approaches the most crushing lows: it's no Chinese Democracy or Second Coming, thank god. And even if you consider it a letdown, maybe it'll hit reset on your expectations so you can properly enjoy the next one (scheduled for release in May of 3024).