Tom Ewing reviews My Bloody Valentine's reunion show at the Roundhouse:
Everything My Bloody Valentine played on Friday night was old material: It didn't matter-- none of it was familiar. In Pitchfork's Top 100 Albums of the 1990s feature, Mark Richardson talked about the vain and frustrating search for something that was "Like Loveless, but more". Here it was: There were moments-- the totalizing crush of "Slow", an unrecognizably venomous "Thorn"-- when texture and volume hit perfect balance and MBV's hallowed recordings seemed like genteel postcards from the corona of this vast solar sound.
Also in Pitchfork today, Exile in Guyville, 15 years later:
The cover shot nipple, "I want to be your blow job queen," the outro of "Fuck and Run" ("...even when I was 12")-- this stuff was startling at the time, but I'm guessing it won't register with any teenagers who discover this today. You can get Savage Love right on your cell phone, and young adults today can browse mainstream blogs and read about machines that will fuck you. Sad to say that at the time, it was shocking to talk about non-missionary sex with the girl you could take home to mom, but today, on "Flower"-- the one about blow jobs-- the line that surprises is her Dungeons & Dragons-like reference to "minions.” (On the original, she said she'd fuck the guy's girlfriend.)
Also hard to explain would be the sound, which is grey and wedged entirely in the midrange. When a "remastered" edition was announced, I had to wonder if the remasterer had actually heard the thing before taking the job-- but hearing it now, the treatment works: the rhythm section, when there is one, has more punch, and Phair's vocals come a little closer to your earlobe. The package also comes with a poorly-made DVD of interviews that Phair conducted with people from Chicago who knew her when-- Steve Albini, Ira Glass, the Urge Overkill guys. It makes a scene that fancied itself "the next Seattle" seem exactly as insular and provincial as it really was.