Shoegaze, the genre that Dublin’s My Bloody Valentine inadvertently pioneered in the early ’90s, was so named because its musicians and their fans tended to hide under great mops of hair, staring down at their footwear—fashionably shy, coy, even a bit effete. While the cliché held true for most of the bands that idolized and imitated the Valentines (Ride, Slowdive), Kevin Shields’s crew set itself apart by making songs that were, and are, ecstatic; music that makes you want to throw your head back and bask. Theirs is a supremely sensual sound that asks you to stop thinking and start feeling, via fuzzed, thick guitar washes and heavenly melodies. It’s body music, which throbs like blood does, dilates and shudders. It conjures the sonic might of Swans, without the menace.
Shields’s painstaking perfectionism resulted in long (and costly) gaps between records—and uncertainty as to whether the band was even making music anymore. The appearance of this year’s m b v album, 22 years after its raved-about predecessor, Loveless, was surprising, to say the least. But from this writer’s personal experience, MBV shows are dependably mind-frazzling; on a minitour in 2007 the band was just as loud as it was in its ’90s heyday, but also unbelievably crisp. Truly, experiencing the Valentines live is something else. See you there, sky-gazers.—Sophie Harris
Follow Sophie Harris on Twitter: @SophieMeve