Distortion and walls of sound: how ‘Loveless’ invented a genre


Experimentation in music is something widely revered and appreciated, but few manage to impact the art form as a whole with one album. However, walking the line between music and noise, English rock band My Bloody Valentine’s 1991 shoegaze release Loveless does just that. With its distinct guitar melodies and overwhelming volume, the record manages to both develop a genre of music, shoegaze, and change all genres of music forever, influencing the works of bands like Radiohead and Slowdive. 

With a length of about fifty minutes, Loveless’s tracklist boasts eleven songs, the shortest of these being “Touched,” a fifty-seven second noisy interlude, and the longest being “Soon,” which is almost seven minutes long. The first track is “Only Shallow,” which is an abrasive, slightly fast-paced barrage of guitars, contrasted by vocalist Kevin Shield’s quiet singing. One word that comes to mind when describing the record’s sound is “ethereal.” Much like many other works in the shoegaze genre, Loveless manages to create an airy, slightly otherworldly sound without becoming boring or repetitive. Loveless also manages to incorporate a loud, slightly abrasive noise-rock quality into its sound without being inaccessible or difficult to listen to. 

The question remains- what exactly made Loveless so influential? The answer lies in the band’s fearlessness in regards to experimentation, creating an album perfectly balanced between ambient and abrasive, without becoming uninteresting or pretentious. Perhaps Loveless serves as an inspiration and an example to artists of all genres- not in a musical or sonic sense, necessarily, but in the sense that daring experimentation can be a positive force in music. Experimentation and change is what makes music genres distinct and interesting, even if said experimentation differs from the noisiness of Loveless or other shoegaze records.

In short, Loveless is a unique, fascinating listening experience, and its sound is beautiful and interesting. It experiments with different sounds without contradicting itself or becoming repetitive, and the songs themselves are memorable and emotional. Loveless is an album that I think is necessary to listen to at least once, and even if one does not care for the album’s sound, they can appreciate My Bloody Valentine’s influence and experimentation in music.