FLASHBACK: My Bloody Valentine ‘Only Shallow’

We’ve been teased so long, but now there’s proof – the My Bloody Valentine reissues are actually happening. Despite corporate record label bullshit and their notoriously perfectionist workrate, newly remastered versions of shoegaze classics Loveless and Isn’t Anything, as well as a compilation of EPs, will be finding their way into the a new generation of hipster collections from May 7th.  

It’s a good excuse to look back at My Bloody Valentine, and their ‘Only Shallow’ video from 1991. Really, you shouldn’t need an excuse to look back at a band like My Bloody Valentine. Their most recent album, Loveless, is over twenty years old and still sounds unlike anything else.

‘Only Shallow’ is the opening track on Loveless and is the quintessential Side One Track One. Just a snare fill and then that blast of incomprehensible sound that gives you that feeling you only get with the real ground-breaking classics which is that at first you don’t really like it.

And of course you don’t like it, because at first it’s disorienting and frightening. Okay, there are melodies, but they sound like an alien lullaby. There are guitars, which are pretty normal, except these guitars sound like whales fighting. There are lyrics too, but you don’t understand a single word and it’s like an elongated sigh.

Then you realize that it doesn’t really matter that you don’t understand the words because that elongated sigh is the most impossibly beautiful voice you’ve ever heard. Maybe it reminds you of your girlfriend or boyfriend or something. And that alien lullaby gets stuck in your head, and you understand that this strange new sound isn’t frightening but unique and amazing, maybe the most unique and amazing sound ever heard!  

So use those reissues as an excuse. Flashback to the first time you heard ‘Only Shallow’ and see if it can blow your mind again, or just listen to it for the first time and blow your mind right now, or flash forward to the futuristic utopia My Bloody Valentine were presumably inhabiting when they made an album this crazy good.

Words by Matt Nielson


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