February 11th, 2013 1:39pm
Pins Me To The Sky
Kevin Shields had a lot of time to dream up new versions of his band over the past two decades, and mbv gives us a chance to hear a bit of all of them, while still holding together perfectly as a coherent, cohesive album-length suite. “New You” is Shield’s version of a pop song, with clear hooks, a bouncing groove, and relatively audible lyrics. But despite that structure, the execution is unmistakably MBV, making it more of an impression of pop than a direct approximation of anything in particular. This is part of why the song is so wonderfully evocative – I hear traces of 20 years of pop and R&B in its rhythms, melodies, and tones, but no real connection to anything specific. It’s a pop song that exists just outside of pop, and outside of time. It is the perfect collision of the new and the familiar, which is why it has such an odd frisson: It manages to be simultaneously thrilling and lulling. I can’t adequately describe what I feel when I hear this, but on a musical level, it’s a lot like déjà vu.
Lyrics are sorta beside the point in My Bloody Valentine songs; Shields primarily writes lines as framework for singing long vowel sounds and for suggesting an emotional or physical context for the music. This is true of “New You” to some extent, but the lyrics that do come through are pretty interesting. Here’s what Belinda Butcher is singing at the conclusion: “What can I say, how can I feel, too? / All kinds of new you.” Every time I hear that, it means something just a bit different. Sometimes the questions sound like an imposition, sometimes they come off like indecision. Is the you the singer, or the person being addressed? Is the idea of a new version of the self good or bad? I’m inclined to hear this as a positive song, and embrace “all kinds of new you” as infinite possibilities for improving your character and outlook on life. But it’s still so open to interpretation. It’s like Shields found a way to make his lyrics as much like a Rorschach blot as the sound of his guitars and synthesizers.
Buy it from My Bloody Valentine.