thu 30/05/2024

Album: The Jesus and Mary Chain - Glasgow Eyes | reviews, news & interviews

Album: The Jesus and Mary Chain - Glasgow Eyes

Album: The Jesus and Mary Chain - Glasgow Eyes

A remarkable Indian summer for East Kilbride's finest

'Nothing short of miraculous'

Jim and William Reid’s musical trajectory has been extraordinary. They started out by out-punking punk with terrifying noise barrages and wilfully clumsy three-chord thrashing, but quickly revealed a deep love of classic pop song structures which became ever clearer as they sonically mellowed in the early stages of their career.

From there, in the early 90s, they managed to catch a wave as elder statesmen of alternative rock – but suffered from creative and personal diminishing returns, eventually acrimoniously breaking up at the end of the decade. 

They reconciled in 2005 and very gradually began touring old material and making new songs – albeit sporadically: it took them two years to start using the JAMC name again, and another decade after that to get to the point of releasing a new album. But somehow during that time, whether it was through understanding the influence they’d had on others, or just good old-fashioned mellowing with age, they gained hugely in confidence. That comeback album, 2017’s Damage and Joy was easily better than any of their 1990s output. And now, seven more years later, they’ve made an even better one.

Damage and Joy managed to bring all the influences they’d always worn on their sleeves – T Rex, Phil Spector, The Velvet Underground, The Beach Boys, The Ramones – together with a sonic gloss from super-producer Youth that suggested they’d been paying attention to post acid-house acts like Death In Vegas, Erol Alkan and the late Andrew Weatherall who had absorbed JAMC influence, bringing a warmth, shine and groove to the sound. And on Glasgow Eyes, which they produced themselves, they’ve done the same but are having even more fun with it. 

All of those influences are present and correct once again, but from the absolutely demented analogue synths and motorik drum patterns that kick off the opening track “Venal Joy”, sheer pleasure in sound-making is palpable. Ditto with the songwriting: for men in their 60s to be singing “I’m addicted to love so let’s fuck on the table” ought to be unseemly, but such is the verve of the rock’n’roll phrase-making it just seems part and parcel with the fizz and buzz of the track. And on it goes throughout. Even when they’re in the most familiar territory, as with “Chemical Animal” which does the brooding gothic Spector sound of 1987’s Darklands, they make it sound modernist and even a little dubby, and throughout they seem to throw frankly mad sounds into the mix with gay abandon. For an act to have been around the block – and through the wringer – as much as the Reid brothers and to be on the form of their life like this is nothing short of miraculous.

@joemuggs

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