It’s easy to forget that there was a time in the early 90s when musicians competed with each other to blur the lines between melody and noise. Guitars got louder and weirder, while vocals became softer and more ambiguous. Grunge had yet to take over the cultural landscape, and the future stars of Britpop were still wearing short pants.
The music of this era became known as “shoegaze,” a term that just about everyone involved has tried to disown. There’s some dispute as to whether this was an actual genre or just a vaguely connected scene. Whatever it was, most will agree that My Bloody Valentine had the strongest impact.
They had unwittingly giving birth to the nascent sound by merging an English melodic sensibility to the guitar-fueled aggression of American bands like Husker Du, Sonic Youth, and Dinosaur Jr. Thus began a three-year period of experimentation leading to the release of their critical and commercial peak Loveless in 1991.
After touring behind their breakthrough album and attempting an aborted follow-up, My Bloody Valentine went on hiatus. Rumors of bankruptcy, drug abuse, and mad scientist-level obsession followed. Fickle audiences soon forgot the pedal-hopping craze in favor of the more direct approach of Nirvana and Oasis.
Luckily, the band left a string of brilliant records as their legacy. Their influence continued to grow, trickling down to younger generations and eventually seeping back into the mainstream.
In 2008 they reunited for a series of live dates. Once again, minds were blown as the group unleashed their strange, beautiful, and frequently loud music upon the world. There were talks of a reissue series to coincide with the reunion, but the project never materialized.
In May, after years of false starts, speculation, and allegations, Sony finally released new versions of Isn’t Anything (1988), Loveless (1991), and EPs 1988-1991, a two-disc set of (mostly) non-LP tracks. Each disc was carefully remastered by songwriter/guitarist/mastermind Kevin Shields.
No U.S. release date has been announced, and vinyl editions are promised “in a few months” (which in MBV-speak could mean a few years). Despite these significant drawbacks, the reissues look and sound fantastic. Hopefully U.S. audiences will soon be able to enjoy them without paying for overpriced imports.