by Richard Hart
When I first pressed play on the classic album “Loveless”, I assumed my old CD player was broken. A strange distorted wall of noise collided with my ears and drove me back. A look of bafflement passed over my face and I took it out. Then I tried ripping the CD and listening to it on my PC. Then I said the immortal words “Oh, so it’s supposed to sound like that.”
‘Loveless’ by My Bloody Valentine remains one of the seminal albums of the 90’s, helping to create an entire genre of music and spawning many admirers and devotees including “Sonic Youth”, “Primal Scream” and “Ride”.
The pure sonic shock of the album is almost physical in nature, the burning tremolo and the feedback. The vocals are muffled, ghost like and Belinda Butler’s tender voice is often lost in a storm of guitar and synth. The album has a vaguely nineties influenced sound but lacks much of the bravado and introspection of the 90’s.
When you finally break the code of “Loveless”, it’s truly a magical moment and justifies all the repeated puzzled listens you had before. Suddenly all of the vague shapes take form, the lack of distinct vocals becomes part of the theme rather than a mystery and you see the pure insane genius of the album.
It’s not an easy album to like or enjoy. There are few stand out tracks, you couldn’t really play one and hope to hook someone. You can’t really sing along most of the time because it’s nearly impossible to tell what Belinda is singing. And as for dancing to it; well they call it shoegazing for a reason.
“Come in Alone” remains my personal favourite, a song that will forever conjure up the image of Times Square in Manhattan; light, sound and fury. But this isn’t an album that people tended to walk away from quoting their favourite song. It wasn’t part of the MP3 generation where you could just download one track. ‘Loveless’ requires you to listen to the whole album and at a fierce volume.
The noise level on the album is massive and “My Bloody Valentine” are legendary for their shows. The endurance trial of the so called “Holocaust section” is part of rock and roll legend, as are the exaggerated claims that the troubled production of ‘Loveless’ nearly bankrupted Creation.
‘Loveless’ was a success but a pyric one that basically destroyed the primary creator of it. Kevin Shields was a recluse for some time and “My Bloody Valentine” was basically wiped out by the famously troubled production process.
Undated, undaunted and fully deserving of its reputation; ‘Loveless’ is there for you to discover, battle with and fall for. For the best results, turn the volume right up.