|Studio album by|
|Released||21 November 1988|
|Producer||My Bloody Valentine|
|My Bloody Valentine chronology|
|Singles from Isn't Anything|
Isn't Anything is the debut studio album by English-Irish rock band My Bloody Valentine, released on 21 November 1988 by Creation Records. Its innovative instrumental and production techniques consolidated the experimentation of the band's preceding EPs, and would make it a pioneering work of the subgenre known as shoegazing. Upon its release, the album received rave critical reviews and reached number one on the UK Independent Albums Chart.
After the band's original vocalist Dave Conway left in 1987, to be replaced by Bilinda Butcher, the band continued for a while in their previous noisy indie-pop style before Kevin Shields returned to their avant-garde roots, and began to explore the possibilities offered by the studio facilities available after signing to Creation Records in 1988. The first fruit of this experimentation was the single/EP "You Made Me Realise", released in July 1988, with Isn't Anything following later that year. "Kevin gave me 'You Made Me Realise', which was supposed to be a track on their first EP for us," recalled Creation head Alan McGee. "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."
Most of the album was recorded in a studio in Wales. While recording the album over a period of two weeks, the band got by on about two hours sleep a night. Bilinda 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."
Q's Stuart Maconie observed that "Isn't Anything was the first full-length expression of this remarkable new sound: gossamer vocals and insinuating melodies glimpsed through sheets of blurred, opaque noise." Melody Maker described the album’s 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.” Taylor Parkes of The Quietus described the album as "livid, lurid and lucid, it's 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." Dave Thompson, in his book Alternative Rock, 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". Anthony Carew of About.com 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". "Several Girls Galore" has been described as "a cubist take on The Jesus and Mary Chain".
Isn't Anything was released in the United Kingdom on 21 November 1988 on Creation Records. A limited edition of the first five thousand LP copies pressed included a bonus 7-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". In the United States, the album was released on Relativity Records and international distribution was handled by Sire Records in Canada, Virgin Records in France, Rough Trade Records in Germany, and Stiletto Records in Brazil. 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". "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.
The album was reissued on CD by Warner Bros. Records in 1993 and 2001 and on Creation in 1996. 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. An additional remaster by Shields at Metropolis Studios in London was released on 4 May 2012.
|Drowned in Sound||9/10|
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
Upon its release, Isn't Anything received acclaim from critics. 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."
AllMusic editor Heather Phares referred to the album 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", awarding the album four and a half stars out of five. Entertainment Weekly reviewer Ken Tucker reflected on Isn't Anything in 1993, gave the album an A– rating and said 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." The remasters of Isn't Anything also generated favourable reviews, with Uncut's Stephen Troussé said "in 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."
Isn't Anything has subsequently become regarded as one of the greatest albums of the 1980s. The album has been included in The Guardian's list of "1000 Albums to Hear Before You Die" and ranked as number 16 in their "Alternative Top 100 Albums" list. The album was also ranked number 24 in The Irish Times' list of "Top 40 Irish Albums of All Time", selected by Pitchfork staff as number 22 on their "Top 100 Albums of the 1980s" list, and listed at number 92 on Slant Magazine's list of "Best Albums of the 1980s". Uncut writer David Stubbs has called Isn't Anything "one of the most important, influential British rock albums of the eighties". In its 2013 update, the NME ranked the album at 187 in its list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Pitchfork selected the album as the 4th best shoegaze album of all time.
|1.||"Soft as Snow (But Warm Inside)"||2:21|
|2.||"Lose My Breath"||Bilinda Butcher||3:37|
|4.||"(When You Wake) You're Still in a Dream"||Ó Cíosóig||3:16|
|5.||"No More Sorry"||Butcher||2:48|
|6.||"All I Need"||Shields||3:04|
|7.||"Feed Me with Your Kiss"||Shields||3:54|
|9.||"Several Girls Galore"||Butcher||2:20|
|10.||"You Never Should"||Shields||3:21|
|11.||"Nothing Much to Lose"||Shields||3:16|
|12.||"I Can See It (But I Can't Feel It)"||Shields||3:12|
|Bonus limited edition single|
All personnel credits adapted from Isn't Anything's liner notes.
- My Bloody Valentine
- Kevin Shields – guitar, vocals
- Bilinda Butcher – guitar, vocals
- Colm Ó Cíosóig – drums
- Deb Googe – bass
- Technical personnel
- My Bloody Valentine – production
- Dave Anderson – engineering
- Steve Nunn – engineering
- Alex Russell – engineering
- Joe Dilworth – photography
|UK Independent Chart||1|
|Irish Albums Chart||49|
|Japanese Oricon Albums Chart||29|
|South Korean Albums Chart||70|
|South Korean International Albums Chart||14|
|UK Albums Chart||61|
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