The unthinkable has happened: murmurs have surfaced that My Bloody Valentine will finally be releasing a new album later this year, their first since 1991’s consciousness-shattering Loveless. At least that’s what enigmatic frontman Kevin Shields has hinted at. My Bloody Valentine’s characteristic manipulation of sound through guitars -- ranging from everything to violins scraping the wrong note, to then strangely and beautifully coexisting with a delay pedal-laden wall of sound -- has garnered them a well-deserved notoriety, and we can only hope the rumors are true.
In the meantime, My Bloody Valentine has released a series of collections cataloguing the almost thirty years they’ve been active, including reissues of Loveless and Isn’t Anything, as well as a 24-track compilation consisting of EPs and rarities previously only available through promos, and three unreleased tracks. By definition reissues tend to be louder, and My Bloody Valentine’s EPs & Rarities is no exception. Yet it hits as intensely as when you first heard them so many years ago. If not more.
Sonorous “Feed Me With Your Kiss” exhibits the lesser-heralded but equally as competent noise rock capabilities of My Bloody Valentine, thumping bass resounding like a heart beating frighteningly out of control. Equally as provocative as the original, the exception stems from the thrashing guitars glossing a bit too much over Butcher and Shields’ vocals, becoming slightly more muddled than usual. Heartbreakingly poignant “Cigarette In Your Bed” still lingers with the bittersweet taste of a morning after, cold and vulnerable. “Honey Power” paralyzes, Butcher’s lovely vocals washed over an ambience of shoegaze guitars.
The full-length version of “Glider,” a B-side on the “Soon” “12, masterfully display Shields’ finesse at crafting a hypnotic drone through the use of slide guitar, oozing with a frenzy of delay pedals. “Instrumental No 1” is deafening, punk rock in the truest sense of the word, while “Instrumental No 2” drifts off into a hazy world of haunting vocal loops and tight, solid drumming.
The three previously unreleased tracks, “Angel,” “How Do You Do It” and “Good For You” soar, more distortion-driven with the likes of fellow friends the Jesus and Mary Chain and less shoegazey than Loveless. Butcher’s vocals seamlessly complement an array of compressed guitars on “Angel,” a lofi ‘90s-esque track sounding like a flawless precursor to grunge. “How Do You Do It” paints a dizzying varnish comprised of Shields’ pleading vocals, tense drumming and roaring shoegaze guitars, while “Good For You” places the listener in a trance of delicious distortion.
EPs & Rarities is less a compilation, more a catalogue of the scattered, varied emotions that My Bloody Valentine manages to embrace with their varied work. My Bloody Valentine has the unparalleled ability to establish a universality within their listeners, resulting in a timelessness that few bands can achieve.