Music Reviews
The Jesus and Mary Chain

The Jesus and Mary Chain

Glasgow Eyes

Fuzz Club

Proper disclosure: I’m not even gonna pretend — The Jesus and Mary Chain are the world without end. I’ve been a fan since 1986 after reading a Psychocandy review in High Fidelity magazine. And though it took almost another year to finally hear them via WPRK/91.5, they remain my favorite band all these years later.

The seminal ’80s noise-pop band, centered around charmingly volatile brothers William and Jim Reid, infamously flamed out during their U.S. tour in 1998. Both William and Jim continued separately for nearly a decade, recording as Lazycame and Freeheat respectively, before they reunited in 2007.

Damage and Joy (2017), the first full-length released during this second act, was a solid album, but one largely constructed of re-recordings of existing songs which dated back to the band’s initial breakup and subsequent time apart.

Now seven years later, we have Glasgow Eyes. Though recorded at Mogwai’s Castle of Doom Studios in Glasgow, it was self-produced by the Reid brothers (Youth previously produced Damage and Joy). And it appears this is a fresh batch of songs, without preexisting origins or providence.

But first things last… What exactly does the Mary Chain sound like in 2024? And more importantly, does it even matter? Well, to answer the first query, the same but (slightly) different. Take the intro of album-opener “Venal Joy.” Modulated, overdriven synths swirl where six-string feedback would have whirled. But the rest is pure candy talking: a pounding lock-groove, fuzz guitars, and Jim intoning “now I’m addicted to love so we can fuck on the table.” Perfection not progress?

Jim Reid, William Reid
Mel Butler
Jim Reid, William Reid

What unfolds across Glasgow Eyes is a wiser, more reflective band pushing into liminal spaces. “Mediterranean X Film” has a rhythmic lilt that reminds me of Kiss Me-era Cure with ambient flourishes throughout the spacious arrangement. While moments of William pedaling down on his Shin-Ei Fuzz Wah and distorting his guitar to the max are fleeting, they’re still present and accounted for. Both “jamcod” and “Pure Poor” (among others) feature thick blankets of fuzztones so visceral you can almost touch them.

Vocally, both William and Jim have never sounded so self-assured and confident; they seem to be really enjoying themselves this time out. And though the Reids have long embraced electronics and drum machines — just listen to the 1983 demo-recording “Up Too High” — they’ve never been this organically embedded in their songwriting. Album standout (and personal favorite) “Chemical Animal” highlights this approach. Synths pulse, drone, and phase throughout as Jim delivers one of his most powerful lyrics on addiction and redemption.

Interestingly, the mellow, self-referential “Second Of June” would have fit nicely on the semi-acoustic Stoned & Dethroned. And the William-sung “American Born” is a celebrated summer of Americana complete with chugging guitars and the album’s catchiest chorus.

But as I posed earlier, does any of this even matter — especially for a band that has long-secured its rightful place in post-punk history? In my fanboy mind, yes, it does, indeed. The one-two blast of Psychocandy plus Darklands played an essential role in my musical evolution during the late-’80s and influenced me to this day in more ways than the Reids will ever know. Hopefully, Glasgow Eyes will connect with younger generations the same age-old way — timeless songs that push and pull on your soul.

Jesus and Mary ChainGlasgow Eyes

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