What Everyone’s (Not) Talking About
Both of these are good albums. One generated tremendous buzz and was showered in accolades by our finest popular music scribes. The other was released by They Might Be Giants. I’ll hand it to those who love mbv—it’s a good album tailored to headphone-prone listeners. But no one gives two shits about TMBG, who, beyond lasting as a duo for three decades, have churned out what might be their best, and reviews are tepid at best if the outlet-in-question even bothered to listen to it more than once. And given the response, my guess is they didn’t.
MY BLOODY VALENTINE – m b v (free download): Kevin Shields finally drops the follow-up to Loveless after a 22-year hiatus and it’s, er, still shoegazey. So I keep catching myself wondering if I’d consider putting so much time into it were it not Kevin Shields. Short answer: no. But compared to Loveless—one of those increasingly rare and invariably overrated tokens of indie rock lore—it’s much less harsh, a warm bath of unapologetically cerebral white noise fuzz guitar, indubitably a result of Shields having grown older and mellower across a score. And since he took that long to craft what I’m sure he thinks is a near-perfect piece, I gave him the benefit of the doubt and spent a long time listening to it rather than rushing out a review like everyone else—seriously, how rude is it of critics to turn around reviews of praise or paddling in two days for an album that took two decades?—and here’s the verdict: Pretty pretty. The hell else can be said? A MINUS
THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS – Nanobots (Idlewild): Straight up don’t understand the critical confusion over the two Johns’ latest, which far from being a children’s album masks its socio-political ire in dandily cartoonish pop hooks, possibly the strongest batch in their 30-year career: Tossed-off critiques of Black Ops’ drone strikes, unlikely proletariat like bark overthrowing the tree, nanobot technology infecting every nook and cranny of life. And even the “Fingertips”-reminiscent run of under-one-minute tracks often have something to consider beyond their sudden silliness: “Let’s go backward to destroy the past/How long will your oxygen last?” “Hive mind/Hive mind,” “Decision makers deciding for me/Decision makers decide!” Not to say they’ve abandoned pure fun; they intimate a chuckleheaded paramour wishing to call his girlfriend “Mom” and issue an oddball ode to Nikola Tesla’s offshoot posthumous inventions. At their strongest they’re known for song cycles of indestructible never-ending melodies, and on this one They Might Be Perfect. A