Writer, editor, professor, etc. For more information, see jaygabler.com.
I was hoping to stir up a little shitstorm by hating on the music of the 1990s, and wow, has my Christmas dream ever come true. In what Nancy Cerkvenik is referring to as “Jay Gabler vs. the 90s,” I’m bumming people out and being called unfair. Other people are following me on Twitter to ride the hatewave. People are suggesting that I listen to bands that I recognize as bands and albums that I thought were bands.
Yesterday I started my quest to discover what was good about the 90s by revisiting Radiohead’s OK Computer, which Pitchfork says is by far the best album of the decade. It left me kind of meh, and on Twitter I discovered a gender divide: men love Radiohead (“Don’t listen to anyone who hates on Radiohead,” etc.) and women vehemently dislike them (“I dislike Radiohead quite a bit,” “Ugh, Radiohead, ick,” “Radiohead? No thanks”).
There’s general agreement, though, that my next stop on the Pitchfork top-100 list is a winner. “You’re getting somewhere with Loveless. I’m excited for you now.” “Yeah, going straight to Loveless will end the experiment quickly.”
Until today, I had never heard My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless in its entirety—though I immediately recognized the general soundscape from bandleader Kevin Shields’s work on the Lost in Translation soundtrack. Loveless came out in 1991, when I was 16, and I can totally imagine it being listened to by the dark little alt girl I had a huge crush on.
I’d been cautioned that “Loveless isn’t going to sound revelatory at first,” and I found that to be true, but it does sound timelessly cool. At any time from 1991 to the present, playing Loveless—unlike, say, OK Computer—at any party or bar would make that party or bar no less cool, and probably more cool. I can also easily imagine this being a go-to album after a breakup, after a hookup, during a hookup, or during a quiet moment while you’re wondering whether she’s really the one. No wonder Sofia Coppola tapped Shields to score her wistful film.
So it sounds good, and I’m sure I’ll listen to it many more times. Does it change my general estimation of music in the 90s? No. Granted, I’ve only listened to Loveless once, but I don’t see it unseating Galaxie 500’s Today (1988, score another point for the 80s!) at the summit of my admittedly small heap of shoegaze favorites. We shall see.
Next up: another 90s album that’s new to me. #3 on the Pitchfork list, the Flaming Lips’ The Soft Bulletin.
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