Thursday, 22 May 2008

Dreams Burn Down

My Bloody Valentine... Few trios of words contain such wait in today's indy hipster universe. For a band that only managed two albums and a smattering of EPs, that's quite a feat. But then, few bands have produced albums like Loveless. From the moment I clapped eyes on its gauzy pink sleeve, with its close-up of a blurry guitar's strings, I knew it would be immense. And immense is probably the best word for it! Loveless sounds like its cover looks: its hazy, intangible, and so fucking loud! It roars out of your speakers on "Only Shallow", grumbles and hums on "Sometimes" and pummels on "To Here Knows When". The guitars scream, then they whisper, then they howl, then they rumble, submerging the voices until everything becomes whispy, ethereal and cottony (literally - your head feels like it's filling up with wool after 10 songs on the earphones!). I could never do Loveless justice: it's probably the best album of the nineties, and one of the very best of all time. No less.

Luckily, I'm not here to feebly try to tackle the beauty of an album so few have been able to do justice to before me. But, if Loveless has one problem, it's that it has completely overshadowed all the albums that came out around in that were of a similar strain. Plus, the well-documented excesses of its creation (18 engineers, 3 years and thousands and thousands of pounds) ended up providing ammunition to shoegaze's detractors, only too keen to label the genre as pompous, excessive and self-absorbed. Ultimately, the hype around MBV's magnum opus spared it most of the bile, but other artists weren't so lucky. But you know what's coming. Because the truth is that, alongside MBV, Ride and Cocteau Twins, there was a whole raft of bands that created equally noisy, equally beautiful and equally inspiring noise-pop/shoegaze that had the floodlights of fame turned away from them due to the fickleness of the world's rock press. As one commentator said of Slowdive, they were resoundly panned "for daring not to sound like a Suede B-side". Which is a perfect description of the UK's music rags circa 1993. And still today, to be honest. So, this little page is here to praise the art of Slowdive, Cranes, Swervedriver, Chapterhouse and many others, some old, some new (as the shoegaze revival gets under way). Trust me, there are many delicious pleasures to make you bang your head and cry at the same time, and they're just waiting to be discovered!