A note to all followers of My Bloody Valentine: you will never, ever, in your wildest wet dreams come close to duplicating the sonic brilliance of Loveless. Accept this fact and we can all just move on. Really, it’s not that hard to realize you will never match the genius of the greatest album of an entire decade. Luckily for the listeners, Athens, Georgia ‘s Japancakes understand this fact, but it still hasn’t stopped them from paying tribute. So they’ve covered that entire landmark album, song for song. At least they’re honest about their influences.
Vocals and lead melodies are replaced by pedal steel and cello. The rhythm section is intact, but less hidden. In place of miles and miles of fuzzed-out, `they-did-all-that-with-pedals?’ distortion is, well, no distortion whatsoever. For those longing to hear their beloved Loveless as they’ve never heard it before, they won’t be disappointed, probably. Through all those cobwebbed walls of sound you could never really tell what Kevin Shields and Belinda Butcher were singing about anyway. Still it was always comforting to know some unmistakably human touch whipped around that massive squall of noise. By this point you may be wondering, no distortion and no vocals, no My Bloody Valentine, right?
Wrong. Listening to reworked versions of “Only Shallow” and “Sometimes” minus the gauze reveals what made Loveless so enthralling to begin with. The gorgeously understated melodies. The subtle chord progressions. Kevin Shields’ knack for wielding each with a complete absence of pretension. Sure, hearing “Loomer” imagined as a gliding pedal steel lament may not be as exciting as when Butcher’s voice pleaded through the eye-glazing beauty of her band’s ground-breaking hazy guitars, but it might make you appreciate the original even more.
Following the release of Loveless, Kevin Shields promptly realized what he had done and had the good grace to bow out rather than to try and top a masterpiece. With news circulating of a My Bloody Valentine reunion and a subsequent new album imminent, one cannot help but be simultaneously apprehensive and ecstatic. Will dreams come true or will good memories sour? We’ll have to wait and see, but as Japancakes makes clear, regardless of the outcome, My Bloody Valentine’s influence will live on.
Tortoise – TNT
Pell Mell – Interstate
Um…My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless