Kevin Shields’ name belongs on the short list with creators like Ralph Ellison, Shuggie Otis, Henry Roth, Jeff Mangum (of Neutral Milk Hotel) and Axl Rose. Guys whose towering artistic achievements in their youth loomed so large that for a prolonged period they were either unable to continue to produce new work, or unable to stop fiddling with it and let it loose into the world.
In Shields case, the vehicle is My Bloody Valentine, the half English-half Irish half male-half female rock band that invented and perfected the genre that came to be known as “shoegaze” with the 1991 gloriously messy, assaultive-yet-intimate 1991 Jackson Pollock drip painting of a rock album, Loveless.
In case you hadn’t heard, on Super Bowl eve, Shields shocked the indie rock world by finally making good on his long running promise to someday actually release the follow-up to Loveless. The 9 song m b v (***) is available for purchase only through mybloodyvalentine.net, and when it became available on Saturday it “broke the Internet,” as they say, or at least caused the band’s servers to crash for a time so it because quite difficult to buy the thing.
M b v starts off sounding an awful like Loveless - not that that‘s a bad thing - with cooing Cocteau Twins-style whispery vocals by Shields or fabulously named second guitarist Bilinda Butcher bleeding into a multi-layered wall of guitar sound. In its middle passages, the martial drums and captivating melodies alive in the mix on songs like “If I Am” pull m b v in a pretty, almost-pop direction. Then the tone gets much more aggressive, as skittering, pile driver drum n’ bass beats work their way into the air-raid attack on not-entirely-successful tracks like “In Another Way” and “Nothing Is.“ Those songs suggest Shields is at long last searching for a MBV sound, but he hasn’t quite arrived there yet. But be patient: He just needs a little more time.
Listen to the 9 album tracks, one by one, below.