Note: this is a recurring series in which we ask our unimaginably young interns to review classic albums they've never heard before. Our current intern at All Songs Considered is Meg Ruddick.
I started working on this review with almost no knowledge of the band or legendary album. The only thing I knew was that My Bloody Valentine was one of the pioneers of shoegazer music. Who's in the band, where they're from, when they made the album and basically everything else was a mystery to me. So I listened to Loveless twice before poring over the album's lengthy Wikipedia entry to learn more about My Bloody Valentine and this classic record.
Listen to "Sometimes" from 'Loveless'
My conclusion? I liked the album, but I didn't love it. It just didn't take hold of me the way I wanted it to. Admittedly, I had really built it up before hearing it, based on rave reviews from Robin Hilton and, well, everyone else. But, I guess I just didn't get it.
The most appropriate word I could use to define Loveless is dense. It's hard to crack, hard to get behind the wall of noise and find emotion or passion in the music. There's a stoicism about it that makes it difficult to connect with. Not being able to decipher the lyrics, I looked them up in hopes of finding something to grab onto, but I just wasn't impressed. I suppose I wanted more poetry and depth somewhere under all the fuzz. Despite the lackluster lyrics, I did enjoy the vocals themselves. They're warm and ethereal, though maybe a bit too low in the mix for my tastes.
The guitars on Loveless, which for many are the most compelling element of the album, were hit-and-miss for me; I love the quality but not the quantity. The thick distortion, bends and subtle tremolo make for a truly mind-blowing sound. It's obvious that the guitars are what make the album. But I'm a big fan of space in music, and how what isn't played is just as important as what is. So for me, the constant barrage of guitar haze is too confining. Also, without some of that space, the music tends to blend together with only repetitive, and often grating, synth hooks to distinguish between songs. The ones that did stand out to me are the opener "Only Shallow" and "Come in Alone." I think I would like all of the songs a lot more outside of the context of the album as a whole, where they (and I) have more room to breathe.
Listen to "Only Shadow" from 'Loveless'
I went back and forth on Loveless a lot. I can understand why it's an important album in the rock canon in the way it helped define a new genre. But it just didn't work for me. I didn't find a new favorite album in Loveless. But who knows. Maybe with more listens, it will all fall into place.