Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Rock of Ages: My Bloody Valentine - "Only Shallow" (1991)

It must be cool basically re-invent a genre. I feel like those days are close to over. In 1991, however, My Bloody Valentine dropped their masterpiece in shoegaze, Loveless. The album is best described as a masterpiece in sound engineering with the songwriting taking a very close second in quality. That said, they sound engineering on this record is beyond perfection. Unlike The Jesus and Mary Chain which had shoegaze elements infused with traditional rock and roll structures or the Cocteau Twins' dream pop style, My Bloody Valentine is a much more incendiary and brutal approach taking post punk sounds and dripping them with foggy, hazy and swirling sounds. The song to best describe this sound is the phenomenal track "Only Shallow." Kicking off with a thundering snare beat and then launching into guitarist Kevin Sheilds maelstrom of guitars immediately will suck you into the hazy vortex of sound. The guitars sound what I think the Phoenix rising from the ashes would sound like.

"Only Shallow" is ferocious and beautiful all at once. Amidst this maelstrom through the haze are the dreamlike female vocals care of Bilinda Butcher come whispering through the noise like a searchlight does on a foggy bay. It's a bastion of hope amidst such fury. That is what makes the dynamic of this song perfect. This album would be the last of My Bloody Valentine's efforts, as it drove Kevin Sheilds and the label he was on nearly bankrupt. To perfect something can break someone and it definitely became the demise of the band. Better to go out on top with a masterpiece then to fade into mediocrity. Only until last year did My Bloody Valentine reunite for some concerts. Apparently they are back in the studio, but it took two years for Loveless to finally come to pass. Two years that made a perfect album, however. "Only Shallow" stands as a testament to the greatness of their perfected sound.

Up Next: Pearl Jam's debut and the grunge revolution

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