Thursday, January 31, 2019

Overrated As Fuck: My Bloody Valentine Edition!


There are just some artists whose every musical utterance is accepted by certain tin-eared rock critics as the Almighty Gospel, leading them to reach for their thesaurus so as to pepper their glowing review with fifteen alternate words for "genius".

Thanks to these fraudulent tastemakers, Wilco could release an album comprised of elephant farts and still make the year-end Pazz and Jop poll. 

By the same token, Radiohead could drop their guitars to the floor and walk out of their rehearsal space without turning their amps off, record thirty minutes of the ensuing hum and feedback, and the resulting album would be the most critically-acclaimed of their career.

However, none of that compares to the mountains of praise heaped upon My Bloody Valentine, whose entire existence has been met with universal critical praise.

With the release of the embryonic Isn't Anything in 1988, wherein guitarist Kevin Shields had only just hit upon the "infinite layers of feedback" aesthetic, every rock critic with a typewriter seemed to set about attempting to win a Pulitzer Prize for their own grandiose description of the album.

Melody Maker's year-end review of Isn't Anything (1988)
"Raving nymphomania"? "Falling out of sleep"? "Absent-mind rulers of this daydream nation"?

Was Melody Maker writing about sleep-walking sex addicts or a rock band? To this day, the jury is still out.

What was it about My Bloody Valentine that led each critic to attempt to out-hype all previous reviews of the album by stuffing as much colorful prose as would fit into the allotted space?

As a voracious consumer of rock journalism at the time, I recall sitting on the throne in complete and utter dismay as yet another rock critic went to absurd lengths to describe MBV's debut album as the sounds that would render the existence of both Jesus and God obsolete.

Naturally, after about the thirtieth glowing review, I just had to hear this album. Upon doing so, though, it became evident very quickly that

A) My Bloody Valentine's debut album fell far short of even the most reserved critical praise, of which there was none, and

B) Every last rock critic who praised Isn't Anything to the hilt was full of shit.

This was confirmed by the release of the band's second album, Loveless, which led many of these same critics to gush openly while offhandedly admitting that Isn't Anything had merely been the band's tentative first step towards their now-trademark sonic seduction, but that Loveless, itself, was the cat's meow set on eleven.

In hindsight, the universal critical praise laid at Kevin Shields' feet hadn't really been about the music, really, but the by-product of numerous rock journalists bowing reverently in the direction of Mecca, which, in 1988, was Alan McGee's Creation Records.

Famous for signing the Jesus &Mary Chain, who, unlike My Bloody Valentine, had the good sense to bury actual songs in feedback, McGee became the Teflon Don of UK guitar rock, where everything he touched was presumed to be gold and no critic dared challenge that assumption.

If there was even a single lukewarm review of a Creation release in the mid-to-late '80s, I didn't see it and, in my own defense, I saw everything.

Even so, every few years, I find myself wondering if I maybe I had been hasty in my dismissal of MBV's well-documented greatness. Within seconds of revisiting Isn't Anything and Loveless, however, I am left with only confirmation that I was correct the first time.

After all, when's the last time you heard someone humming a My Bloody Valentine tune whilst shopping for overpriced hemp coffee coasters at Urban Outfitters?

I ask this because, at the end of the day, what leads me to regard MBV as little more than a cruel hoax is the complete lack of ACTUAL SONGS.

But why listen to me when you can listen to Alan McGee, who, in the 2014 documentary Beautiful Noise, said, "Loveless is fucking overrated as fuck."

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