My Bloody Valentine is a band with a strong and dedicated cult following, but they missed the mainstream recognition that their musical peers of the time enjoyed. In 1991, they released their seminal album Loveless, a dense, but melodic collection of pop songs drowned in massive waves of distortion. It is their use of distortion and overdrive that gave them their defining sound and made their last album one of the best of the decade.
My Bloody Valentine is really a simple band at heart. They write pop songs with beautiful vocal lines flowing over strong chord progressions and direct, driving rhythms. Their sound however, is something that had never been recorded before, and hasn't really been matched since. The core of all of their songs is distortion. Huge amounts of it created by multiple overdrive and distortion pedals. This is not the work of a single distortion pedal, or even a few overdrive pedals, this is the work of an army of guitar pedals and some layered recording thrown in the mix.
The stories of My Bloody Valentine recording sessions are legendary. Some accounts say that they took so long to record it that their distributor almost went out of business and the executive of the company lost his mind. Whether or not this is true, it is a fact that the members of the band were extreme perfectionists about the mixing of their album, especially the sound of the guitar distortion.
Most of the songs on the album employ a fuzzy type of overdrive and distortion. I do not know whether they primarily used overdrive pedals, distortion pedals, or the distortion on their guitar amps, but whatever it was, they crafted a full and powerful sound that was at the same time delicate and warm. When you listen to the album, you feel like you are awash in guitar distortion and overdrive. The masterful thing about the recording is how the vocals perfectly blend into the sound of the guitars. Even the drums seem to be swimming in the waves of distortion.
Not many other albums in history have created such an interesting and enjoyable atmosphere of sound, and guitar distortion or overdrive pedals have never been used to create such a pleasant sound in such extreme amounts. It would take some high quality amps and a lot of guitar distortion equipment to replicate this sound, and that's apparently what My Bloody Valentine does at every show. Their shows are supposed to be incredibly loud and overwhelming.
For a less severe taste of their music, just put on this album and enjoy some music that puts guitar distortion center stage without it seeming noisy. For a truly orchestral experience of guitar overdrive and distortion effects, listen to this album.