My Bloody ValentineSonic Experimentalists
Late-blooming sonic pioneers turned musical hermits.
In the space of a decade, My Bloody Valentine transformed from third-string Irish goths to the most uniquely assaultive band of the shoegazer era to the J.D. Salingers of indie rock. 1985's This Is Your Bloody Valentine was an unremarkable-at-best debut further hampered by Dave Conway's Ian Curtis-goes-rockabilly vocals, but things improved somewhat over a series of EPs marrying Jesus and Mary Chain-style feedback with mastermind Kevin Shields' increasingly '60s-centric reference points. ("Lovelee Sweet Darlene," anyone?) The Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood-inspired 1987 single "Strawberry Wine" introduced Conway's far superior replacement, guitarist Bilinda Butcher, but it wasn't until their Creation Records debut "You Made Me Realise" that the mature MBV sound flowered. Burying blank, affectless vocals amidst multiple layers of heavily-processed guitar sounds, the song remains the group's touchstone: famously, it became their near-violent concert closer, at times lasting as long as 45 earsplitting minutes. The albums Isn't Anything and Loveless -- along with an even more experimental pair of EPs, Glider and Tremolo -- further explored sensuous, tactile noise soundscapes that only occasionally nodded toward pop-song accessibility. But when the band began work on a major-label follow-up to Loveless in 1992, the sessions quickly spiraled out of control: one rumor claims they completed and abandoned over 60 hours' worth of new material, another that they never fully finished even one song. Although the band began sporadic concert appearances in North America and Europe in 2007, no new albums have been forthcoming.