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Review: My Bloody Valentine’s ‘M B V’

My Bloody Valentine

M B V (self-released; www.mybloodyvalentine.org)

To hear the new My Bloody Valentine record, some 22 years after the release of its seminal Loveless album, requires a balancing act, for one ear is taking it in as a adult and music critic, and the other as the 15-year-old enthralled by the psychedelic rush of shoegaze music.

The band’s leader, Kevin Shields, doesn’t make that experience any easier through his divisive track-listing. The first four songs are gauzy, immersive and blissed-out guitar clouds, mostly sung by guitarist/vocalist Bilinda Butcher as if she is having an out-of-body-experience and singing to herself through a reverb fog. They’re comforting and well-layered, but still boilerplate for a band that’s tinkered with them off and on since 1996.

Then, at the end of “If I Am,” a squiggle effect all but marks the end of that aural massage and transitions into a decidedly more experimental and innervating suite of songs, from the Stereolab-meets-Eno synth meditation “Is This and Yes” to the closing “Wonder 2,” which sounds like an F-16 squadron demonstration scored to breakbeats. It is this half-plus of the record where Shields deftly applies modern music stylings to his pioneering six-string symphonics. It’s also the segment that reminds me of what I felt when I first heard MBV’s “Only Shallow” in 1991 — simultaneously stunned, transported and baffled at how someone could make such an intricately beautiful racket.