If you have not yet been introduced to the alternative sub-genre shoegaze, I suggest you start with this cliché but amazing album by My Bloody Valentine. This sophmore album, released in 1991 brought shoegaze into the mainstream later to have bands like M83 and Asobi Seksu follow in their footsteps (pun intended).
So let me break this down for you; the term “shoegaze” is derived from the fact that pioneer bands such as My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, and The Jesus and Mary Chain would gaze or stare at their shoes in a dream-like trance whilst performing. Like all good things, shoegaze originated in the United Kingdom sometime around the late 1980’s. A melting pot of guitar feedback, undistinguishable lyrics, underwater riffs, and an overall lucid ambience, shoegaze is the tasty nectar of gods.
The album starts with the consuming song “Only Shallow”. Beginning with a drum count-off the song progresses into guitar shrills and feedback fuzz. With dream pop lyrics, the introduction slowly picks up into a harder almost unidentifiable arrangement of distorted notes and beats. The soft slightly indecipherable vocals of Bilinda Butcher create a harmonious marriage to the gnarled instrumentation.
A familiar song, “Sometimes” was set to a Tokyo montage to complement Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansen’s budding friendship in Lost in Translation. Entering the realm of a dream state, the lulling song can be easily considered the best on the album. Kevin Shields pounds away on nickel wound strings as his muffled vocals melt in an out of the mix to compose the perfect ambient theme.
I think that Loveless is the only album I have ever discovered where the last track was completely fitting for its ending wave. “Soon” is seven minutes of a musical rollercoaster. The song starts with a thick bass line accompanied by Kevin Shields’ steady guitar chords. Suddenly, a riff of eight high notes repeated creates the perfect melodic uplift, which is sparsely scattered throughout the song. The melody is then counter acted by Shields’ vocal slurs to lead the melody to bring the song back up again.
The album as a whole is so innovative it is the definition of musical originality. Being on my own High Fidelity inspired “Top 5” I highly urge everyone to try this album (preferably on vinyl). Just look for the dark pink amorphous album cover in your local record store.