My Bloody Valentine's breakthrough record "Loveless" was a landmark album in 1991, a groundbreaking mix of guitar work, production techniques and unusual song structures that influenced generations of indie-rockers from the Catherine Wheel to Garbage.

The world waited to hear what My Bloody Valentine mastermind Kevin Shields would come up with next. They waited patiently for the follow-up to "Loveless," then not-so-patiently and then, well, most people gave up.

But on Feb. 2, more than 21 years after the release of "Loveless," in the middle of the night, Shields surprised the world with an announcement that "mbv" ( had arrived, which promptly crashed the band's website.

Oddly enough, the announcement turned out to be a bigger surprise than "mbv" itself, with the album seemingly picking up where "Loveless" left off, in both style and structure.

The bulk of the album is atmospherics created by the layers of Shields' guitar work, using distortion and reverb to stretch and manipulate the guitar sound. The closing songs "Nothing Is" and "Wonder 2" are the most experimental, bringing in some EDM elements. But the most memorable songs are "If I Am" and "New You," the ones featuring Bilinda Butcher's breathy, ethereal vocals that float over Shields' churning guitars.

Twenty -- or even 10 -- years ago, "mbv" would have been seen as groundbreaking. However, music caught up to, or even surpassed, Shields' techniques years ago. Luckily, his songwriting and playing are more than enough to make "mbv" worth a listen.

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BOTTOM LINE The long-awaited follow-up to "Loveless" almost lives up to the hype