She Found Now by My Bloody Valentine
Your life isn’t long enough to waste any time listening to this.
There is a reason people hate rock critics. No, that’s not correct. No one cares enough about rock critics to hate them, but everyone hates the up-turned nose sensibility of anyone who, by profession or personal opinion, believes themselves to be knowledgeable enough in a particular genre to offer criticisms of something you might only be marginally into only to presuppose what type of “appreciator” you are by virtue of the band, the food, the drink, or the television shows you watch.
I hate it too. But I find this funny because, if WD is any indication, I’m guilty of it.
Word of the Emperor’s refined habits spread over his kingdom and beyond.
Backstory: My Bloody Valentine is an alternative rock band formed in Ireland in 1983. My guess is you’ve never heard of them. They are most well known for their 1991 album Loveless, which, anecdotally, took over two years to make and nearly bankrupted their label, Creation Records.
“We are two very good tailors and after many years of research we have invented an extraordinary method to weave a cloth so light and fine that it looks invisible.”
Loveless received and continues to receive extensive critical acclaim. That is, critics gush over it with witty and nonsensical vignettes like: “Loveless” fires a silver-coated bullet into the future, daring all-comers to try and recreate its mixture of moods, feelings, emotion, styles and, yes, innovations.” Link. My guess is most of you loyal downloaders, even with your moderately refined musical palates, have never listened to Loveless.
“Besides being invisible, your Highness, this cloth will be woven in colors and patterns created especially for you.”
I’ve listened to Loveless…well, some of it, and I can say with certainty it’s one of the biggest collections of junk noise I’ve heard this side of morose jet engine choking on a xylophone. It’s feedback and reverb and noise. Loud noise, unintelligible words, and generally a bad time.
The two scoundrels asked for a loom, silk, gold thread and then pretended to begin working.
But the critics love it. I mean seriously love it, calling it the second best album of the 90s and one of the best of all time.
The Emperor thought he had spent his money quite well: in addition to getting a new extraordinary suit, he would discover which of his subjects were ignorant and incompetent.
Pitchfork, the all encompassing critic of all things musically cool, ranked Loveless the second best album of the 90s behind only OK Computer. For perspective, here is a sampling of Albums Ptichfork said weren’t as good as Loveless: Nevermind, Nirvana; The Soft Bulletin, The Flaming Lips, Achtung Baby, U2; Summerteeth, Wilco; Grace, Jeff Buckley, Aquemini, Outkast; and every note Pearl Jam has ever played.
A few days later, he called the old and wise prime minister, who was considered by everyone as a man with common sense.
A couple of rock/music critics WD really respects have gushed and gushed about this loud and distended (for the sake of being loud and distended) shit show, Steve Hyden and Bob Boilan, This is especially disappointing because I consider Hyden (who writes for P-fork and Grantland) and Boilan (the brains behind NPR’s All Songs Considered) to be at the very lowest end of snobby rock critic-dom, and I generally trust their opinions
“Go and see how the work is proceeding,” the Emperor told him, “and come back to let me know.”
Regardless of this critical acclaim, My Bloody Valentine didn’t release another album until this year. Their new album, titled m b v, was released on February 2nd of this year. (N.B. Feb 2nd is a Saturday, not the usual Tuesday album release date. MBV “released” m b v by sending out an email to their”unsuspecting” fans (who’d waited two decades for a follow up) on a Saturday night to “come and get it.” This of course caused their website to crash in the rush, and certainly says quite a bit about MBV’s fans in that they were home twiddling their thumbs on a Saturday night ready to download new noise from a band that hadn’t done anything in twenty years.) The critics have gone crazy again, feeding off of each other to celebrate m b v’s extraordinary greatness.
“If I see nothing, that means I’m stupid! Or, worse, incompetent!” If the prime minister admitted that he didn’t see anything, he would be discharged from his office.
As such, I decided that surely, I’ve been missing something. So I decided to give My Bloody Valentine another chance, figuring if they’ve been working on a follow-up for over twenty years, then maybe they got it right this time.
“Here it is your Highness, the result of our labour,” the scoundrels said. “We have worked night and day but, at last, the most beautiful fabric in the world is ready for you. Look at the colors and feel how fine it is.”
The very best thing I can say about m b v is that it’s abstract. But abstract music doesn’t work for me.
But when he realized that no one could know that he did not see the fabric, he felt better. Nobody could find out he was stupid and incompetent.
Abstract paintings can be confusing and seem pointless, but they can be awe inspiring and beautiful if you look deeper. (See: Pollock, Jackson). They flood you with an entire space of meaning. But abstract music, I’ve decided, is confusing and stressful. Listening deeper is a destructive and reductive process of disassembling noise in search of (allegedly) in-evident pretties mired in sonic mush. At least that’s what I found myself trying to do when listening to m b v. And I failed.
“Yes, this is a beautiful suit and it looks very good on me,” the Emperor said trying to look comfortable. “You’ve done a fine job.”
There is rock that I’ve also tried to listen like this to, like I’m viewing abstract art. And Radiohead (at times) is prolly the best of it. But it’s difficult because the see organs and the hear organs do their jobs in different ways (N.B. I guess…B.A. Letters, 2001). If abstract rock is MBV’s goal (N.B. and it has to be), they put entirely too much emphasis on the abstract, and not nearly enough on the rock, on the reasons people listen to music in the first place.
“All right,” he said. “I will grant the people this privilege.” He summoned his carriage and the ceremonial parade was formed. A group of dignitaries walked at the very front of the procession and anxiously scrutinized the faces of the people in the street. All the people had gathered in the main square, pushing and shoving to get a better look.
This makes m b v noise, the way some would call Jackson Pollock paint spilled on canvas.
A child, however, who had no important job and could only see things as his eyes showed them to him, went up to the carriage. “The Emperor is naked,” he said.
But the critics (P’fork: 9.1, Spin: 8, The A.V. Club: A et seq.) are enthralled with this noise.
“The boy is right! The Emperor is naked! It’s true!”
But I post that My Bloody Valentine is why people hate critics, because critics say: “if you don’t get it, you’re not listening hard enough.”
The Emperor realized that the people were right but could not admit to that. He though it better to continue the procession under the illusion that anyone who couldn’t see his clothes was either stupid or incompetent. And he stood stiffly on his carriage, while behind him a page held his imaginary mantle.
To which I respond: fuck you.