Isn't Anything is the debut studio album by Irish-English rock band My Bloody Valentine, released on 21 November 1988 by Creation Records. Its innovative guitar and production techniques consolidated the experimentation of the band's preceding EPs[6] and would make the album a pioneering work of the subgenre known as shoegazing.[7][8][9] Upon its release, the album received rave critical reviews and reached #1 on the UK Independent Albums Chart.

Isn't Anything
Studio album by
Released21 November 1988 (1988-11-21)
Recorded1988 (1988)
ProducerMy Bloody Valentine
My Bloody Valentine chronology
Feed Me with Your Kiss
Isn't Anything
Ecstasy and Wine
My Bloody Valentine studio album chronology
Isn't Anything
Singles from Isn't Anything
  1. "Feed Me with Your Kiss"
    Released: 31 October 1988

Background edit

After the band's original vocalist Dave Conway left in 1987, replaced by Bilinda Butcher, the band at first continued in their previous noisy indie-pop style. Kevin Shields then desired to return to the band's avant-garde roots and began to explore the possibilities offered by the studio facilities available after having signed to Creation Records in 1988.[10] The first fruit of this experimentation was the single/EP You Made Me Realise, released in August 1988, with Isn't Anything following later that year.[7]

Creation head Alan McGee recalled: "Kevin gave me 'You Made Me Realise', which was supposed to be a track on their first EP for us. I went, That's the single! He was shocked, cos they'd only done the track as a joke. Then they did stuff for their album, and I said, Go for more of the weirder stuff. So they went back and did stuff like 'Soft as Snow'. Those are the only suggestions I've ever given them."[11]

Most of the album was recorded in a studio in Wales[12] over a period of two weeks, and the band members slept about two hours a night.[10][7] Butcher described the effect of this: "Often, when we do the vocals, it's 7:30 in the morning: I've usually fallen asleep and have to be woken up to sing. Maybe that's why it's languorous. I'm usually trying to remember what I've been dreaming about when I'm singing."[7]

Music edit

Q's Stuart Maconie wrote that the album "was the first full-length expression of this remarkable new sound: gossamer vocals and insinuating melodies glimpsed through sheets of blurred, opaque noise."[13] Melody Maker described its sound as "swoon-songs, oblivious, languorous vocals and out-of-focus guitars which are like being taken to the brink of consciousness and held there."[14] Taylor Parkes of The Quietus described the album as "livid, lurid and lucid," and called it "the shattering racket of the moment, an audio snapshot of the overwhelmed senses, a noise like nothing you've ever heard, but everything you've ever felt."[15] In his book Alternative Rock, Dave Thompson described the album's sound as "dry ice-piercingly intense guitar drones and hefty nods to miasmic hardcore soup, oozing a contrary trance-spun drone. Noise becomes beauty as feedback is layered over vocals over feedback ad infinitum."[16] Anthony Carew of described its style as "atonal, desconstructed, free-noise guitar playing" and noted that it had an "ethereal, spectral quality that radically reconfigured the predominant paradigms of rock'n'roll."[17]

"Several Girls Galore" has been described as "a cubist take on the Jesus and Mary Chain."[10]

Release edit

Isn't Anything was released in the United Kingdom on 21 November 1988 by Creation Records.[18] A limited edition of the first 5,000 vinyl copies included a bonus seven-inch single featuring two instrumental tracks, both titled "Instrumental". The B-side track featured a Public Enemy drum loop from "Security of the First World."[19] In the United States, the album was released by Relativity Records, with international distribution handled by Sire Records in Canada, Virgin Records in France, Rough Trade Records in Germany and Stiletto Records in Brazil.[citation needed] Isn't Anything's lead single "Feed Me with Your Kiss" was released in October 1988, backed with three outtakes from the album's recording sessions: "I Believe", "Emptiness Inside" and "I Need No Trust".[20] "Soft as Snow (But Warm Inside)" was also released as a promotional single in the United States in December 1988. Neither of the album's retail singles charted.[citation needed]

The album was reissued on CD by Warner Bros. Records in 1993 and 2001 and by Creation in 1996.[19] A 180-gram LP version of the album was released by Plain Records in 2008, and a remastered version of the album was released in June 2008.[21] An additional remaster by Shields at Metropolis Studios in London was released on 4 May 2012.[22]

Reception edit

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [6]
Entertainment WeeklyA−[23]
The Irish Times     [24]
Mojo     [25]
MSN Music (Expert Witness)A−[26]
Q     [13]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [28]

Upon its release, Isn't Anything received acclaim from critics. "If Isn't Anything had been made by Americans", wrote NME reviewer Jack Barron, "My Bloody Valentine would be greeted as the new messiahs of dreamrock guitar."[27] A 1988 year-end roundup of the year's top albums in Melody Maker ranked Isn't Anything third of the year and called it "a raving nymphomania and out-of-body experience [that] establishes them as absent-minded rulers of this daydream nation."[14]

AllMusic editor Heather Phares referred to Isn't Anything as "the most lucid, expansive articulation yet of the group's sound" and said the album "captures My Bloody Valentine's revolutionary style in its infancy and points the way to Loveless, but it's far more than just a dress rehearsal for the band's moment of greatness."[6] Entertainment Weekly reviewer Ken Tucker reflected on Isn't Anything in 1993, saying "the passion of their playing – the rafter-shaking guitar chords, the baleful vocals – attests to their faith in romance, betrayal, and dizzy crushes. They nearly bury their somber melodies beneath surface noise. But unearthing the tunes is part of the listening pleasure."[23]

The remasters of Isn't Anything also generated favourable reviews. Uncut's Stephen Troussé wrote: "[I]n rock algebra you might deduce that they'd worked out some new equation involving the barbed languor of the Mary Chain, the speedfreak urgency of Sonic Youth, and a dash of The Vaselines' sauce – but none of that accounts for the savagely sensual results."[30]

Isn't Anything is regarded by many as among the greatest albums of the 1980s. The album has been included in The Guardian's list of 1000 Albums to Hear Before You Die[31] and ranked at #16 in their Alternative Top 100 Albums list.[32] The album was also ranked #24 in The Irish Times' list of Top 40 Irish Albums of All Time,[33] selected by Pitchfork staff as #22 on their "Top 100 Albums of the 1980s" list[34] and listed at #92 on Slant Magazine's list of Best Albums of the 1980s.[35] Uncut writer David Stubbs has called Isn't Anything "one of the most important, influential British rock albums of the eighties."[10] In its 2013 update, the NME ranked the album at 187 in the list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[36] Pitchfork selected the album as the fourth-best shoegaze album of all time.[37]

Track listing edit

All music is composed by Kevin Shields, except for "Sueisfine," composed by Shields and Colm Ó Cíosóig

1."Soft as Snow (But Warm Inside)"2:22
2."Lose My Breath"Bilinda Butcher3:38
3."Cupid Come"Butcher4:29
4."(When You Wake) You're Still in a Dream"Ó Cíosóig3:18
5."No More Sorry"Butcher2:47
6."All I Need"Shields3:05
7."Feed Me with Your Kiss"Shields3:54
9."Several Girls Galore"Butcher2:21
10."You Never Should"Shields3:23
11."Nothing Much to Lose"Shields3:17
12."I Can See It (But I Can't Feel It)"Shields3:14
Total length:38:00
Bonus limited edition single[38]
1."Instrumental No.1"3:19
2."Instrumental No.2"4:36
Total length:7:55

Personnel edit

All personnel credits adapted from Isn't Anything's liner notes.[39]

My Bloody Valentine
Technical personnel

Chart positions edit

Chart (1988) Peak
UK Independent Chart[40] 1
Chart (2012) Peak
Irish Albums Chart[41] 49
Japanese Oricon Albums Chart[42] 29
South Korean Albums Chart[43] 70
UK Albums Chart[44] 61
Chart (2021) Peak
Australian Albums (ARIA)[45] 45
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[46] 116
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[47] 81
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[48] 63
Irish Albums (OCC)[49] 31
Portuguese Albums (AFP)[50] 44
Swedish Physical Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[51] 2
UK Albums (OCC)[44] 22
UK Independent Albums (OCC)[52] 4

References edit

  1. ^ a b Jackson, Josh. "The Best Albums of the 1980s". Paste Magazine. Archived from the original on 6 October 2016. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  2. ^ Music Times
  3. ^ Reynolds, Simon (1 December 1991). "Pop View; 'Dream-Pop' Bands Define the Times in Britain". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 March 2010.
  4. ^ a b Richardson, Mark (11 May 2012). "My Bloody Valentine: Isn't Anything / Loveless / EPs 1988–1991". Pitchfork. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
  5. ^ "100 Best Albums of the 1980s". Slant Magazine. 5 March 2012. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  6. ^ a b c Phares, Heather. "Isn't Anything – My Bloody Valentine". AllMusic. Retrieved 25 April 2010.
  7. ^ a b c d Reynolds, Simon (2008). "It's the Opposite of Rock 'n' Roll". Spin (August 2008): 78–84.
  8. ^ Reynolds, Simon (1 December 1991), "Pop View; 'Dream-Pop' Bands Define the Times in Britain", The New York Times, retrieved 7 March 2010
  9. ^ Petridis, Alexis. "Listen and you'll see: Alexis Petridis on My Bloody Valentine". Bowers & Wilkins. Archived from the original on 17 April 2013. Retrieved 4 October 2021.
  10. ^ a b c d Stubbs, David (1999). "Sweetheart Attack: My Bloody Valentine's Isn't Anything is the Eighties rock album". Uncut (February 1999).
  11. ^ Select, April 1994
  12. ^ Blashill, Paul (1989). "My Waking Dream". Spin (May 1989): 12. Retrieved 25 April 2010.
  13. ^ a b Maconie, Stuart (June 1996). "My Bloody Valentine: Isn't Anything". Q. No. 117.
  14. ^ a b "Albums of the Year". Melody Maker. 24 December 1988. p. 56. Retrieved 25 July 2017.
  15. ^ Parkes, Taylor (10 June 2008). "My Bloody Valentine". The Quietus. Retrieved 25 April 2010.
  16. ^ Thompson, Dave (2000). Alternative Rock. Miller Freeman. p. 512. ISBN 0-87930-607-6.
  17. ^ Carew, Anthony. "My Bloody Valentine Isn't Anything – Review of Their Classic 1988 Debut Album". Archived from the original on 12 January 2012. Retrieved 11 April 2012.
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  19. ^ a b Strong, Martin C. (2003). The Great Indie Discography. Canongate. p. 884. ISBN 1-84195-335-0.
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  23. ^ a b Tucker, Ken (9 July 1993). "Isn't Anything". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on 19 October 2016. Retrieved 11 April 2012.
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  25. ^ Eccleston, Danny (August 2008). "Crown of Creation". Mojo. No. 177. p. 118.
  26. ^ Christgau, Robert (22 February 2013). "My Bloody Valentine/The Vaselines". MSN Music. Archived from the original on 23 March 2013. Retrieved 26 May 2016.
  27. ^ a b Barron, Jack (19 November 1988). "Valentine Daze". NME. p. 38.
  28. ^ Sisario, Ben (2004). "My Bloody Valentine". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. p. 566. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  29. ^ Troussé, Stephen (21 May 2021). "My Bloody Valentine – Isn't Anything / Loveless / m b v / EPs '88–'91". Uncut. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  30. ^ Troussé, Stephen. "My Bloody Valentine Reissues Special – Isn't Anything/Loveless/The Coral Sea". Uncut. Archived from the original on 11 October 2008. Retrieved 25 April 2010.
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  35. ^ "Best Albums of the 1980s". Slant Magazine. 5 March 2012. Retrieved 11 April 2012.
  36. ^ "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time: 200–101". NME. 24 October 2013. Retrieved 26 May 2016.
  37. ^ "The 50 Best Shoegaze Albums of All Time". Pitchfork. 24 October 2016. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
  38. ^ Instrumental (Media notes). My Bloody Valentine. Creation Records. 1988. CREFRE 4.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  39. ^ Isn't Anything (CD). My Bloody Valentine. Creation Records. 1988. CRELP 040CD.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  40. ^ Lazell, Barry (1997). Indie Hits: 1980–1989. Cherry Red Books. p. 155. ISBN 0-9517206-9-4.
  41. ^ "GFK Chart-Track". Irish Recorded Music Association. GFK Chart-Track. Archived from the original on 2 October 2013. Retrieved 13 May 2012.
  42. ^ "マイ・ブラッディ・ヴァレンタインのCDアルバムランキング、マイ・ブラッディ・ヴァレンタインのプロフィールならオリコン芸能人事典" [Oricon Entertainment Encyclopedia – Oricon CD: My Bloody Valentine Album Rankings] (in Japanese). Oricon. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
  43. ^ ":: 가온차트와 함께하세요 ::" [Gaon Album Chart: 2012.05.06~2012.05.12] (in Korean). Gaon Chart. Retrieved 10 July 2013. N.B. User must select "2012 년" from the right drop-down box, select "2012.05.06~2012.05.12" from the second drop-down box and then select "51–100유" from the bottom of the chart.
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