Isn’t Anything is a game changer. My Bloody Valentine had started out as a kind of pale Cramps type, floundering in attempts at slinky garage. It was when vocalist Dave Conway left, replaced by Bilinda Butcher, that things really started to happen.
There had always been a swooning, dreamy quality to tracks like Strawberry Wine, but You Made Me Realise took the formula from Sonic Youth’s wonderful EVOL of beautiful shimmering melody and noise, and fused it, to disorienting effect.
Isn’t Anything, released in 1988, took it further still: the woozy, almost narcotic waves of being were ramped up and Kevin Shields’ blistering guitars were pushed front and centre.
Butcher, Debbie Googe and Colm O’ Ciosoig are simply brilliant musicians, and all had an equal share in the songwriting process.
The carnal- Soft As Snow, Feed Me With Your Kiss, Cupid Come- merged with darker material about abuse (No More Sorry) and the sorrowful -Lose My Breath, Sueisfine.
The blending of vocals by Butcher and Shields was impossibly androgynous and sexy and the blurring of soft and loud, rarely bettered.
As a formula, it still endures. Duality is always welcome in music, but this album dared to go further by building textures and layers of intricate sound. Many indie bands still try to use this, to this day.
My Bloody Valentine have been described as creating shoegazing, but they’re far more complex, more dense, caught in that half-awake, half-asleep state when things don’t feel quite real. It’s proof the best art comes from leftfield. Loveless is wonderful, but never forget how incredible, and prescient, its predecessor Isn’t Anything still is. It’s perfect.