Loud and energetic MBV delivers

My Bloody Valentine became influential with its 1991 album "Loveless," and it remains a musical force today.
My Bloody Valentine became influential with its 1991 album "Loveless," and it remains a musical force today.
Posted: November 12, 2013

Few albums are responsible for creating a scene of sound-alike followers in the wake of their release. With its overpowering distortion, loud, riffing drones, and buried, unintelligible vocals erecting a wall of impenetrable sound around its dazzling, melancholy melodies, Dublin's My Bloody Valentine and its 1991 Loveless became a foundation for the shoegazing brand. 1990s acts such as Ride and Lush benefited from the tag at the time, and current bands including Sigur Ros, M83, and the Pains of Being Pure at Heart can be heard shoegazing from time to time.

The immense potency and importance of Loveless certainly was felt within MBV - guitarist/composer/mumbler Kevin Shields, breathy vocalist/guitarist Bilinda Butcher, and company - as the reclusive band did not release its highly orchestrated, sound-alike follow-up, m.b.v., until February 2013. That's a long time between drinks.

On Saturday, devotees of MBV's haunting, reverb-drenched tones packed Electric Factory to witness the notoriously loud ensemble do its thing. The most impressive part of the live production was a tower of power worthy of the band's reputation for Spector-ian wall-of-sound grandeur. MBV did that with 12 amplifiers spread across the stage. That made the band's noisy, feedback-laden, guitar-army sound more focused and raw than orchestral, especially during songs such as "Thorn" and "Soon."

It wasn't perfect at first. The hard-strummed "Sometimes" was plodding, with singer Shields in a particularly marble-mouthed mindset. The pitch-bending "I Only Said" was tedious. Though "You Never Should" held a handsomely melodic chorus and Butcher's vocals were airily icy, the song never truly levitated. Even something as aggressive as "When You Sleep" seemed sleepy.

"Only Shallow," the spectacular first track from Loveless, broke MBV's slump. With its drums set to thud, that tune found Shields maintaining a riffing, raw guitar tone and monkeying with his tremolo bar for its famed glide effect while Butcher cooed slightly risqué lyrics as "Soft as a pillow / Touch her there / Where she won't dare / Somewhere."

From that point, every song bristled with energy and invention. Old tunes such as "Feed Me With Your Kiss" resonated with the same bass-heavy boom as songs like "Who Sees You," from m.b.v. Though touch-and-go at its start, this My Bloody Valentine show was a victory for the glory of distortion and melody.

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