March 17, 2013

Bloody shame

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Apparently that’s what My Bloody Valentine was counting on.

After 22 years of insoluble silence, the shoegaze pioneers grabbed worldwide headlines in February when they unexpectedly released their third studio album, mbv. Jilted exes welcomed back Kevin Shields and Bilinda Butcher with open arms, a bygone infatuation suddenly renewed.

The predictable schmooze-fest quickly ensued, rivaling any rom-com ever conjured by Hollywood:

“My Blood Valentine have released a tremendous record with MBV, one that is a natural progression from Loveless.”

“MBV is a worthy successor to Loveless, and a masterpiece in its own right.” 

A small sample of the fools rushing in. The stampede to the rose-petaled mattress was so hellacious that nobody bothered to turn on the boudoir lights and expose mbv‘s luridly disfigured physique.

Loveless was nothing of the sort. It exhibited an intense, internal passion and enticed hopeless music romantics to forsake rigid notions and embrace what commitment to true creativity could birth. mbv is Shields’ bastard child, resembling its sibling only in their flangey, distortioned DNA. None of the songs receive enough TLC to induce the stomach butterflies hatched by the elder’s fertile womb. 

Given the bevy of underdeveloped extremities, Lifeless would be a more applicable title. “in another way” flexes big muscles that atrophy outside the verses. The fresh air Shields pumps through “nothing is” never gets properly circulated. “is this and yes,” “only tomorrow,” and “wonder 2” serve no functional purpose. These organs waste away, further starving an anorexic body lacking vital nutrients. “if i am” and “new you” suffer from tempo dehydration and require heavier effects enzymes to be fully digestible. “she found now” and “who sees you” supply a faint pulse, injecting potent sustenance into the record’s otherwise anemic bloodstream.

I’m probably the only one not falling head over heels for mbv, but that’s fine. In this case, it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

March 8, 2013


America is struggling to recover from the Great Recession. Abandoned Pools may have narrowly averted a greater one.

The exclusive entity of mogul Tommy Walter flooded the global markets last August with Sublime Currency, a third full-length which acquired its IPO courtesy of Tooth & Nail Records. While nominal buzz possibly inflated expectations, Walter’s proven history of manufacturing remarkable products justified the fervor. But the follow-up to 2005’s Armed to the Teeth doesn’t meet the growth projections analysts had forecast. At the margins, it procures menial gains; in the aggregate, it’s subpar compared to Walter’s normally gold standard.

Despite Walter’s affinity for electronica on side projects Oliver the Penguin and Glacier Hiking, colossal guitar rock has consistently dominated the bottom line of Abandoned Pools’ balance sheets. His numerous bids to combine all three holdings create a ponzi scheme that generates zero interest. “9 Billion,” a failed merger of faux Matrix film rhythm loops and violin-tinged overdrive, should have been reserved to the demo vault. Save for its brief bridge, “Behemoth” weighs about as much as a sock full of pennies. The real villain of “Hype Is the Enemy” is the negative equity traded between a verse and chorus written on different sides of the ledger. A wealth of worthless synth-pop deposits bankrupt the title track and “Unrehearsed,” plunging the record’s first two quarters deeper into the red.

Walter turns on a dime and finally starts to cash in during the last six songs. “Legionnaire” and “Marigolds” recoup the bulk of the dividends, staging hostile takeovers behind Bryan Head’s shrewdly executed drumming and killer riffs capable of blasting holes through an armored car. “From Long Sleep” – an Oliver the Penguin derivative – is a substantial withdrawal from the loud din of those exchanges, its credit upgraded by stripped-down instrumentation and the soothing tones of guest vocalist Paris Carney. Walter endows “In Silence” with carefree earnestness, lending to its commercial viability. “Autopilot” and “In Shadows” don’t net large windfalls, but offer adequate solvency toward reducing the album’s deficits.

Though Sublime Currency slightly leveraged its P/E ratio, I’m staying bullish on Abandoned Pools. The potential rewards of Walter’s future transactions far supersede the unsuccessful risks he took here.