[Eds. Note: When Hanson sent in this review, we were confused. Surely if the long-awaited follow-up to My Bloody Valentine's seminal 1991 album Loveless leaked, we would have heard, no? And yet, Hanson insists he's heard the album. When we pressed him for a listen, Hanson claimed that an early morning energy drink accident had resulted in a failed hard drive, and that the blog on which he found the leak had disappeared. He's stopped answering our emails, but continues to tweet.
While we don't want to say we don't believe him, we also cannot say we do. What is clear, however, is that he reviewed something, and ultimately (given that taste is subjective and that it's impossible to figure out if what I call "blue" is really what you call "blue" or if what I call "red" is actually what you call "green")... isn't that what matters?]
Do you remember the 90s? More specifically, do you remember when that famous inventor (Google's been down for the last few days so this review will be entirely based on memory, apologies but not really) announced that he'd finished his latest invention? He held press conferences; I think I saw it on 60 Minutes. What will it be?!, the public wondered. A flying car, a miracle, a way to turn salt water into water into Zima? And then the inventor unveiled his creation: The Segway. And people were like, "A scooter? Fuck you for having us pay attention to you."
Kevin Shields remember the 90s. And while I can't be certain that he was following the media-storm that surrounded the birth of a $15,000 toy that maxes out at 15MPH (though you can totally imagine him owning and riding one), he's certainly internalized its lesson. Which is to say: the follow up to Loveless cannot be a Segway.
And yet. And yet and yet and yet and yet. How could it be anything but?
Given the amount of time and money and southern hemisphere imports that went into its creation, there was no way that Deeper, Redder, Still the Feeling could be terrible. But, at the same time, usually it's not a good sign when an album takes 20+ years to finish. Often it means there's a lack of ideas, overproduction, and just a general "this isn't very good" vibe. What is surprising, then, is that it's 2013 and the new My Bloody Valentine album is unequivocally great.
First things, first: Sonically there isn't anything shocking about the album. The aural hallmarks are still present. The guitars swoosh and the drums sound like varying types of trains. I'm not sure if any particular vocal is male or female.
My Bloody Valentine winning some award in 2008.
The album opens with "Girls [Karen]", a four minute drone-cum-anthem that immediate reassures any doubts about whether Shields still has it. Its seamless transition into "Lonely Now" makes clear that the album format still matters. As the guitars build over nine(!) minutes, Shield's voice, like kindling, builds from a whisper to a crescendo, repeating "now." Now indeed.
In Camus' The Plague we come to learn that one character has spent years writing his masterwork, which turns out to just be one sentence. Similarly, even if Deeper, Redder were just this one song, it would still be no less than fantastic. "Rough" (leaked on the internet early last week as "Rough Song") follows, but the real album highlight comes later.
"Feeling Everything" is, essentially, What We Talk About When We Talk About My Bloody Valentine. Even its title seems quintessential. Like "Sometimes", it oozes warmth; like "I Only Said," it showcases a guitar hook that you could turn into a rap song (and, in fact, I will eat his paint-splattered Margielas if A$AP Rocky doesn't build a beat out of it by the end of 2013). Everything about it is perfect and you couldn't change a thing without irreparably harming it. Paradoxically, it's clear that, were the song twice as long, it would still be perfect. Where words fail, I will say: :)
Over repeated listens, what emerges is that Shields avoids the curse of the follow-up album by choosing not to follow anything. Think of Deeper, Redder and Loveless as two streets running parallel to each other. Both are lined with tall, full trees that are centuries old and beautiful houses and subtly manicured gardens. Neither one is more enjoyable to walk down, and both will get you to the same place. To suggest that one is somehow more important or better than the other is to completely miss the point of experiencing something meaningful.
Follow Hanson on Twitter - @HansonOHaver