Critic’s Notebook: My Bloody Valentine, Lucrecia Dalt, Holly Williams, Le1f

Notable recordings from the world of pop music.

My Bloody Valentine

Cover art for My Bloody Valentine's new album, "MBV." (Courtesy of My Bloody Valentine)
(Courtesy of My Bloody Valentine)

On Saturday night, a somewhat AWOL Irish rock band ruled the Internet, joining the ranks of Radiohead, Jay-Z and Kanye West by collapsing the traditional hype cycle and dropping a new album into the bandwidth, no heads up.

And while “MBV” materialized in a blink, it’s been more than two decades since My Bloody Valentine’s most recent effort, “Loveless,” an album that still feels like a trip to the ocean floor – beautiful, wondrous and crushing from all sides. Since then, the band’s ear-mauling guitars have cast an unbreakable spell on indie rockers obsessed with mood and atmospherics, not to mention metal troupes that speak exclusively in pulverizing drones.

Fans of both blocs will be pleased-not-thrilled with “MBV.” The songwriting seems slightly tentative, but bandleader Kevin Shields still knows how to make electric guitars sound like jet engines singing lullabies. And that should be enough to hold us until 2034, right?

Lucrecia Dalt

This Barcelona singer-producer spends her 9-to-5s as a geotechnical engineer, so it makes sense that she thinks about music in layers. But Dalt is also a bassist, which makes just about every song on her superb 2012 album “Commotus,” (recently re-released with a handful of remixes), subliminally funky. You might hear trace fumes of P.J. Harvey or Joy Division wafting through these avant-pop constructions, but overall, this is mysteriously original and strikingly intimate stuff.

Holly Williams

Instead of trying to figure out how gramps made heartbreak feel like fun, Holly Williams makes heartbreak feel like heartbreak. “I raise your babies and I kiss your lips/So why are you cheatin’ on a woman like this?” the granddaughter of the great Hank Williams pleads on “Drinkin’,” the first cut from her new disc, “The Highway.” It’s like “Your Cheatin’ Heart” without the toe-tappy beat, but with all of the desperation.

Le1f

If rap is a chest-puffing contest, Le1f is winning. Few rappers sound more confident right now than this Gotham newcomer who rhymes over dark, clinical beats in a glottal timbre that swings between the sinister and the sensual. Deep into his new mixtape, “Fly Zone,” he recycles an Eminem lyric, “I am whatever you say I am,” then deflates hip-hop’s sexual taboos with artful nonchalance: “Stop worrying about how gay I am/Or how gay I’m not/Does my [music] not knock?”

Le1f – “Spa Day”

Chris Richards became the Post's pop music critic in 2009. He has covered D.I.Y. house shows, White House concerts, go-go and Gaga.
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Ron Charles · February 5, 2013