Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Album Review: My Bloody Valentine - You Made Me Realise

My Bloody Valentine: You Made Me Realise
[Creation 1988]


Outside of 1988's Isn’t Anything and 1991's landmark Loveless, the work of shoegazing kings My Bloody Valentine is spread out over a string of almost a dozen EPs, many of them documenting the band’s earlier gothic rock style. As the band moved into shoegazing, a genre My Bloody Valentine could pretty much be credited with as creating, one of the earliest examples of their later style is in the EP You Made Me Realise from 1988 and just prior to Isn’t Anything. It is uniquely more instrumentally upbeat than Loveless and more lyrically clear while still captivating with the “wall of sound” that is the band’s hallmark.

You Made Me Realise begins with the namesake of the EP and one of the strongest tracks in MBV’s catalog “You Made Me Realise,” a powerful song featuring soaring vocals from Kevin Shields and Belinda Butcher and a simmering guitar riff. As opposed to the use of vocals as sounds more than anything in Loveless, the lyrics are quite clear even amid distortion and carry out the frenzied pace of the song. A little past the minute and a half mark, the song begins to descend into a very thick layer of guitar distortion, almost seeming to showcase the use of ambiance to deliver the surrealistic sensations of their music, before the standard guitar riff reappears to close out the forceful opener.

More relaxed and dreamy is “Slow,” which seems to make little effort in trying to conceal that it is about a blowjob. Shields’s groaning vocals encapsulate the quite explicit nature of the song, which fits under the intimate themes in much of MBV’s music. Evident here is a consistent ambient melody through the entire song that is indicative of Loveless. More sunny and pleasant images come to mind in the next song “Thorn,” which showcases MBV at one of their lightest moments. The strongly pop-oriented melody is only restrained by the distorted ambiance that carries on in the background.

“Cigarette in Your Bed” brings the EP back into a darker, dreamier landscape that is complemented by cryptic lyrics (“Arms untied / Scratching your eyes out / With a smile”). Be it some description of S&M or something else, while the song is perhaps a bit off-putting, the band keeps the song from reaching any more morose with the familiar fast strumming of an acoustic guitar and more innocent vocalized melody from Butcher.

The EP’s conclusion with “Drive It All Over Me,” the only song here given joint-writing credits between band members (the others written by Shields), shows that each band member was right on the same page. Back into “Thorn” territory, “Drive It All Over Me” is another uplifting daydream, spearheaded by the once-again innocent vocals of Butcher backed by a wall of distortion and powerful drumming from Colm O'Ciosoig.

Alongside the popularity of Loveless, You Made Me Realise showcases the band’s ability to apply the same shoegazing innovations to a more down-to-earth release that could even be considered more accessible.

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