Listening to my new favourite podcast (to say nothing of our forthcoming foray into the medium) as I travelled southward for the weekend, cruising past typical American countryside or what I took to be its fairest approximation, I was absolutely taken with ‘She Found Now’. Driving enhances music. There is something about the kinetic forces at play as you move past homes and businesses, parks and retaining walls at speed that makes the effect of whatever you’re listening to at the time greater still. There is urban music, for stop signs and pedestrian crossings, one-way streets and no through roads and there is highway music for 85 on the interstate and trying to eat string beans and check the GPS at the same time, toll booths and turnpikes. In the scheme of things ‘She Found Now’ is distinctly highway. Expansive and rich, noisy and engulfing, it houses the kind of sound that would go under-appreciated in the city, that would be loss in the hustle and bustle of the everyday commute. You need time, space, silence in which to explore ‘She Found Now’. Thankfully, on Thursday, I got it.
According to the hosts of said podcast, it’s not necessarily out of the ordinary that I didn’t quite know about My Bloody Valentine, whose third studio album, the appropriately titled ‘m b v’, was released on the band’s website last Saturday. After all, I was two when their second album, 1991’s seminal ‘Loveless’ (which J has written on before), was released. It’s not just the age discrepancy that set me at a disadvantage. When anyone mentions ’90s music’, my mind automatically skips to 90s hip-hop or, in the alternative, to the Everclear brand of pop-rock that Brother J riffed on earlier in the week. Likely because so much of my happy-go-lucky youth was lived out during the decade, while I can get into early-90s grunge, shoegazing, introspective rock is not something that would have appealed during those formative days. Moreover, MBV is not particularly accessible. For highway driving, with nothing but the road and the occasional speed-trapping cop for company, it opens up. But without that capacity for mindful interaction, the Dublin band’s fuzzy, messy, alternative rock could easily be mistaken for lazy songwriting and sub-standard craft.
‘m b v’ being their third release and ‘Loveless’ their second, there was a break of some 22 years between releases for the band. Expecting audiences to be on board with you after leaving them hanging for that long is pretty significant. Regardless of how much ‘Loveless’ was lauded, there comes a time when even the most stellar of albums sparkles and fades (excuse inadvertent Everclear reference) and yet, over two decades down the track, ‘She Found Now’, the opener to ‘m b v’, sounds fresh, contemporary, belies the fact that frontman and founder Kevin Shields is going on 50. ‘She Found Now’ is the only song I’ve heard from the album yet, waiting for my next car journey to explore the rest of it, and intrigues me more from what it doesn’t say about the band famous a lifetime ago then what it does. In the pitch-bent vocals, crashing and reforming guitars and almost imperceptible percussion, the song only hints at themes, sentiments and lyrics. In a way that confronts the modern obsession with instant gratification, MBV delay meaning, comprehension and pleasure, preferring instead to create a sensation of mood. ‘Shoegazing’ sounds to me pejorative in this respect as the reflective quality of the music is so much more based in the self than concerned with the exterior. It seems smart without being pretentious, profound without being needlessly ‘deep’. Atmospheric and warm, thankfully I only have an album to catch up with the last 22 years of MBV. Discovery starts now.
My Bloody Valentine – She Found Now