When: Sun., Nov. 3, 7:30 p.m. 2013
I’ve never joined the cult of Loveless—My Bloody Valentine’s 1991 high-water mark and a record that Jim DeRogatis recently called the “most innovative and influential rock album of the last 25 years.” Um, sure, boss. Yes, it’s a terrific, highly original album, and when I put it on the other day, it still sounded pretty great, if a bit dated. But I’m not willing to go as far as DeRo’s hyperbole. In February, with little fanfare—perhaps because guitarist and bandleader Kevin Shields had already been promising for much of the past two decades that the follow-up to Loveless was just around the corner—the band released m b v on its own label. Expectations were less stratospheric than they might have been, but considering the two-decade lag it’s much better than I thought possible. The trademarks are there: whispery pop vocals, muted drums, and a heavily processed roar of electric guitar, warped beyond recognition by whammy-bar abuse. Occasional acts of reduction, however, suggest a band trying to do something out of character. The middle third of the album often features minimal organ patterns, easy-listening melodies, and wordless vocals (“Is This and Yes,” an example), suggesting a narcotized take on 90s Stereolab. The final third travels even further outside the band’s comfort zone, combining the usual surging, throbbing guitar noise with unconvincing adaptations of hard, clubby beats that leave the tracks sounding half-finished. The acoustics at the Aragon should give the tortured howl of My Bloody Valentine’s guitars some additional (if not exactly welcome) atmosphere at this show, the band’s long-overdue return to Chicago. —Peter Margasak Variety Lights open.