Twenty-seven years ago, sonic masterminds My Bloody Valentine released Loveless.
It’s an entirely timeless album – even today, it remains one of the most strange and beautiful records ever recorded. Brian Eno famously called the closing track, “the vaguest piece of music to ever make the Top 40,” which is about as high praise as Eno can give.
But the music wasn’t all that was vague and amorphous. Its creators were similarly unknowable. After Loveless made them stars (and allegedly bankrupted their label), bandleader Kevin Shields largely disappeared from the public eye. He popped up every few years to say he was working on new music, but the hype would fizzle with nothing to show for it. He may have well as retreated to a farm in rural Ireland without a consistent Internet connection – a modern-day hermit.
But even in its creators’ absence, Loveless became a classic, beloved by hipsters and critics alike.
The only problem there is that there was a single vinyl edition released in 1991. And that sells for well over $100. I was lucky enough to have acquired a copy a few years back. The demand for a reissue has opened the door to a number of bootlegs, but the quality of each pressing was suspect.
When My Bloody Valentine reunited in 2007, it seemed like a reissue was imminent. When they finally released its follow-up in 2013, we were all sure that a Loveless reissue was right behind it. But alas, it wasn’t the case. After a while, most of us had given up hope of an official reissue and settled for a bootleg.
But then, in November of 2017, two new items were added to their online store. After years of teasing, Shields finally finished the analog remasters of Loveless and Isn’t Anything, its predecessor. I preordered it as soon as I could and endured the long wait.
This week, it finally arrived on my doorstep. And friends, it is as beautiful as promised.
The packaging is a heavy gatefold. The original inner sleeve artwork adorns the inside of the jacket. It’s a sure upgrade from the flimsy single jacket of the original pressing.
But the main event here is the sound of the record. After all, Mr. Shields allegedly spent years slaving over it in his shack in the country. And in that regard, this repress succeeds immensely. I own several copies of this album, all in different mediums. This pressing blows the CD out of the water as far as clarity. At the same time, it’s far richer than even the original 1991 pressing.
This album has never sounded better. From the lush atmospheres of “To Here Knows When” or “Sometimes” to the crushing walls of sound that fill “Only Shallow” and “Soon,” every second of music on this disc comes through in the sort of immaculate detail that Kevin Shields intended.
And in a marketplace flooded with reissues that are little more than thin-sounding cash grabs, this remaster is absolutely essential.