Bloody Hell! Is the new MBV LP days away?
Posted on Monday, 28 January 2013 | No Comments
Chinese Democracy finally limped its way out the studio in 2008. SMiLE? Pff, that one's now come out twice. But that other white whale of the musical world, a third full-length from My Bloody Valentine, has always remained a distant dream. After signing to Island and promptly sputtering to a halt in 1993, transmissions from planet MBV have been rare and guarded - aside from the dug-up demoes and bootlegs that finally found an official release on the EPs 1988-1991 compilation, the only 'new' track released by the band in all this time is a cover of Wire's Map Ref. 41N 93W for the Whore tribute album in 1996.
But slowly, there have been signs of life from the slumbering behemoth. There were Kevin Shield's contributions to the Lost In Translation soundtrack (including the under-stated gem City Girl), his collaboration with Patti Smith on The Coral Sea, his work and touring with Primal Scream, and most notable 2008's remarkable reunion tour. These dates, their first in sixteen years, saw the band re-affirm the staggering achievement of their work to date, a deafening explosion of psychedelic beauty and ragged glory that dealt with accusations of money grabbing and nostalgia through the brilliance of its execution.
Since then, Kevin Shields has slowly been stoking the fires of anticipation for a third album, the much-delayed completition of tracks begun in the mid-nineties. Mooted release dates have, unsurprisingly, come and gone without so much as a note of music to go on. Not only was he already indie rock's greatest procrastinator, he was now in danger of becoming a pure fantasist. Yet over the last year, the wheels finally seem to have spun into action. Throughout the year, occasional interviews suggested that the album might finally be staggering across the finish line, until on the 24th December, they finally commented that mastering had been completed on the record on the 21st.
Once more, it's been back to the rumours and gossip well known to the eternally frustrated MBV fanbase. Yet this time...well, hadn't they actually finally gone and done the sodding thing? With tour dates across Japan, Australia and Europe looming from February onwards and still no further update, it seemed like there might have been another roadblock on the way preventing the album from happening. Perhaps the band had got cold feet about the prospect of following up a record as totemic as Loveless - one of the main reasons sessions had originally collapsed back in the mid-nineties.
Last night at a warm-up gig for this fresh round of touring in Brixton though, something rather nexpected happened. They played a new song. The recordings of it are rough, and the poor sound many attendees complained of is certainly evident in the sound of the PA struggling to cope with the MBV live sound. But here it was: new material.
Listed on the set as 'Rough Song' and played first, while there's still many questions left to be answered - how on earth is it actually going to sound on record, how come after twenty years there's still no song title, and where on earth is the rest of the new material? - at last, the drought is over. There is new My Bloody Valentine, and on the basis of the rough live bootlegs, they've done themselves proud. A hazy, surprisingly optimistic chord progression and a beautiful synth line that nods back at electronic acts like Boards of Canada who took so much influence from the band the first time around forms the bedrock for (when you can hear it) a typically seductive, elusive Billinda Butcher vocal. It's pure My Bloody Valentine, without resorting to cliche or old moves., and suggested that whatever comes next will show a genuine songwriting progression.
If Kevin Shields is to be believed (ha), the full album might be with us in just a few days. Certainly, there now seem to be plenty of buzz around an internet release in the coming days or weeks to coincide with their new tour - their first tour in support of new material, perhaps, since 1991. Whether it's this week or not, the recorded return of one of the most inventine and powerful bands of all time is now seemingly imminent. Loveless II:Electric Boogaloo or whatever it's called is just sat there, waiting for us. Expect to read more on Endless Window as and when it finally, finally, really does happen this time...