By Colin Small
Regardless of how or at what time of life they have experienced the band, rock listeners consistently recognize My Bloody Valentine as a sonic outlier. When we talk about MBV, this rare status can easily become a burdensome tool, only lending itself easily to logically abstract proofs of how Kevin Shields’ textural soundscapes have subverted a normal rock and roll experience. In a less lofty sense, however, it is probably more productive to say that Kevin Shields and company simply make exceptionally effective rock music, not because they’ve thrown the genre’s standard techniques out the window, or because the band has managed to move themselves into a foggy and uncharted musical realm that nobody else has yet to explore, but because they are so confidently specific in the way that they use the same basic instruments as any other band: a guitar, a bass, a drum set, a synthesizer, and a human voice.
So we should not talk about My Bloody Valentine in generalities. While their steadfast individuality as a band makes their music instantly recognizable, in terms of emotion, sound, and composition it varies greatly on an album by album, song by song basis. Having released music with spotty consistency since 1983, the band has evolved through a number of different sounds, from the proto-punk/fuzz pop pastiche of Geek!, to the innocently sincere sunshine of Ecstasy, the experimental picaresque of Isn’t Anything, the heavily saturated, linear melodies of Loveless, and finally, the seasoned maturity of m b v. The only way that we can even try to understand all of these sounds is to dissect each of them as best we can. Here is our attempt to do so, the twenty best My Bloody Valentine songs.Click to start the list