My Bloody Valentine's Isn't Anything - 1st Listen

I got this a while ago - I read the book in the 33 1/3 series on MBV’s Loveless, an album I really enjoy but had just plucked out based on a few mentions of it well after its day. In that book, they mention Isn’t Anything and recommended it as a precursor to Loveless.

Just a first listen, but wow. The ticks that mastermind Kevin Shields completely saturates Loveless with - e.g., guitars that de-tune like a Polynesian chant, layers of distortion used as a soft foundation for the other instruments, buried vocals - are all used, but more in service to the song - not the other way 'round, IMHO, as on Loveless.

Good guitar-oriented indie rock - cool riffs. It rocks - something Loveless doesn’t. You can really tell who Billy Corgan/Smashing Pumpkins is “borrowing from” quite obviously here.

I look forward to more listens…

That’s my favorite MBV, and I think it’s miles above Loveless. Like you said, all of the aural goofiness is in servitude of the songs, and we’re talking great pop songwriting Songwriting is the only thing that matters, even in a band like MBV, so when you hear that hook on Cupid Come, which hits like a forgotten 60’s pop gem (albeit one with a layer of cacophony), it’s just perfect.

It’s a great album. You might like to pick up the You made me realise EP if you can find a copy - all the songs on it would have fitted in very well on Isn’t Anything. They were totally awesome live when they were playing this stuff. They really, really wigged out on the faster songs. My hearing has never been the same since. :cool:

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Started this thread over the weekend; I’m curious if other Dopers know this band, let alone this CD…

I’ve listened to this album several times, but it just doesn’t compare to Loveless for me. I’m not even sure how to describe it, but Loveless is simply transcendent, while Isn’t Anything has good songs, sure, but somehow feels like it’s just on the edge of genius, but not quite there yet. The atmosphere that Loveless creates is like nothing I’ve ever heard before or have ever heard since. The opening snare hits of “Only Shallow” ranks among my greatest album openers.

Then again, Loveless is my second favorite album of all time (behind the not-so-original pick “Pet Sounds”), so it would be rather difficult to top.

There’s plenty of people who prefer Isn’t Anything, but I don’t get it.

You’ve heard “Only Shallow” and “What You Want,” right?

I totally disagree. I love Loveless and I can only discern a handful of partial lyrics. In fact, I think the relative clarity of the singing on Isn’t Anything is a mark against it, as it puts Kevin Shields’ voice upfront, which isn’t his strength. Songwriting is definitely one part of the puzzle, but for some acts its a lot more important than others.

Nope - the whole thing. Many, many times. I love this album - but it doesn’t “rock” to me.

Well, Kevin Shields isn’t a Professional Male Vocal Performer, he’s a goofy irish guy doing dream pop. His vox on “Isn’t” are miles above most from that Creation era. The hooks and songwriting are simply inarguably stronger on “Isn’t” - they gave up the actual songwriting on “Loveless” in favor of sonics. I do think that songwriting is literally THE thing that matters when you’re dealing with vocal music, unless you’re talking about Meredith Monk or Sachiko M.

Isn’t Anything has never really appealed to me as much as Loveless. Something about it seemed haphazard and unfinished, like a sloppy practice run for the style that was perfected on Loveless. It’s been a few years since I’ve listened to it though-- maybe I’ll dig it out and give it another try.

I agree. And this is why I prefer Loveless. I like the sonic space and emotion the pure sound Loveless creates, and Isn’t Anything is just missing that for me. Isn’t Anything just sounds like a very good pop album with some really cool arrangements. Loveless sounds like music from another world.

I agree with how you differentiate between the two CD’s - I am enjoying exploring Isn’t Anything as a “very good pop album” that includes a lot of the elements of Loveless dialed in much lower - the don’t override the song. I like both so far - but Loveless achieves something pretty rare with it’s transcendent qualities.

puly, you might enjoy that 33 1/3 book on Loveless. It’s short and does a pretty good job discussing the music and the situation that led to it getting made. Much better than many of the 33 1/3 books…

Ya know, I’ve never read anything about the making of Loveless, other than it bankrupt the record label and was the most expensive album at the time (or something like that). That would be a fascinating read.

I still remember the first time I heard Loveless I actually thought the tape was warped since it sounded like it was constantly speeding up and slowing down. I soon realized that it was only the guitars ebbing and flowing in and out of tune. Took me a couple of listens to acclimate my ears to the new sound, but it was worth it!

Shields is quoted a lot in the book - he absolutely refutes the claim that Loveless bankrupted Creation Records - not that a lot of detail is offered to back his (or Creation’s) claims, but you get another perspective.

He also talks a bit about how he uses a Fender Jazzmaster’s whammy bar - and only that specific type, with the bar bent a certain way - to get his de-tuned effects.

He discussed some of the recording of the album, but not so much that you could replicate that distortion-so-saturating-it-becomes-a-pillow-for-everything-to-rest-on sound. But you hear about how many tracks were done for the guitars (very few) and the vocals (tons), etc…

It’s funny - I remember reading an interview with Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins where he mentions how easy it is to get that Loveless distortion sound if you know the recipe. He clearly does know the recipe; just listen to all of Siamese Dream, especially Cherub Rock. I wonder what it is?

I don’t really see how you can say that. Perhaps I’m misunderstanding you. Are you saying that things like melody and rhythm don’t factor into your appreciation of music which happens to have lyrics, no matter how ancillary they happen to be? I take it you’re not a fan of house music?

I discovered My Bloody Valentine about 10 years ago at age 15 when I started playing guitar, reading guitar mags, and becoming more aware of music in general.

My taste favors the Loveless album by a long shot because of the unusual timbre: heavy but also smooth and surreal. I try, but there really aren’t words to describe the sound. I could care less about being able to discern the lyrics. Loveless is easily among my top 10 favorite albums.

I feel sorta luke warm about Isn’t Anything. This music is more direct with only hints of sounds that word later dominate in Loveless. It’s good enough for me to tolerate (which is more than I can say about most music).
Does anyone know when My Bloody Valentine’s new album is finally going to be released? I’ve been sitting on the edge of my seat for months now… From Wikipedia:

How long into 2008 will this release be post-poned?

I like the songwriting on Isn’t Anything better, so that’s my choice.

If anyone here hasn’t heard the Tremolo e.p. then you should get to it. It is of the Loveless era, but I think it’s actually better than the album.

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WHOOSH

Well, without further explanation, it seems like you are trying to say that there is no MBV release scheduled? I know they have re-grouped to play a few dates, but don’t know more beyond that.