m b v

m b v

The main feeling that Kevin Shields felt upon the release of m b v in 2013 was relief. The process of making his band’s third album—and first since 1991’s era-defining Loveless—had begun almost two decades before, and, after a last-minute race to complete it before a planned tour, it was done. “We had a six-month tour in front of us and we literally just finished it in time,” Shields tells Apple Music. Continuing a theme begun by Loveless and 1988’s Isn’t Anything, Shields compromised nothing on m b v. This time, though, it was a totally independent production, all on him. “I spent about £50,000 mastering it,” he says. “If we were with a record company, they would have been going absolutely crazy, but we paid for it ourselves and we put it out ourselves and we made a lot more money than we would’ve made if we’d put it out on a label.” m b v began back in 1996. The band’s classic lineup had started to disintegrate, with drummer Colm Ó Cíosóig and bassist Debbie Googe departing. Perhaps in a reflection of this unsettling period, Shields began to approach songwriting in a much more experimental manner. “I went on this process of recording a lot of ideas in a purposely abstract way,” he says. “I wasn’t trying to write a song with a beginning and an end. Instead of writing a part in a song, I’d record it and then record another part. I was doing the writing process and the recording process at the same time but in different ways. It might be weeks between a verse and a chorus…well, I don’t do choruses.” The idea was that eventually these ideas would form a coherent whole that would be a new my bloody valentine record, but the project stalled in 1997 when Shields ran out of money. “And then I started hanging out with Primal Scream and I kind of drifted into that world, which was fun for quite a while.” It wasn’t until Shields was remastering the band’s back catalog in 2006 that he listened back to the unfinished sessions. “I realized it was actually better and more relevant than I thought it was,” he recalls. “I’d kind of forgotten about the more melodic parts of it and realized they were quite strong. I thought, ‘I should finish this and make it into an album.’” It was a freeing process, Shields says, filled with lots of “crazy shit.” At one point, they paid to fly people from England to Japan with proofs of the artwork because they didn’t trust just seeing it on a computer. “We were literally throwing money at it to make sure it was as good as possible,” he says. “Every single penny was justified.” By the end, Shields felt vindicated. “We did it our way and it was perfectly good.” No my bloody valentine record ever sounds of its time—they all sound like the future. But there is something especially reinvigorating about listening to their third album, perhaps because of how unlikely its release seemed at points. To hear Shields still erecting signposts on where guitar music can go on the sensational closer “wonder 2,” which sounds like a rock band playing drum and bass from inside the engine of a 747, or the slo-mo sway of “if i am” is to be reminded that this is a visionary at work. One of the central themes of m b v, says Shields, was a strong sense of everything coming to an end. He thinks that’s why it still resonated when he listened back in 2006, the feeling growing as he recommenced work on it in 2011 and even more so now. “We’re in a cycle of the world of things coming to an end and moving into a new phase,” he says. “The record is more relevant as every decade goes by.”

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