Damaged and Joyful
The Return of The Jesus and Mary Chain
It’s been almost two decades since they’ve graced us with a new album under the moniker of The Jesus and Mary Chain, but low and behold, the Brothers Reid have managed to do something that the Brothers Gallagher will probably never be able to do: make a new album together. Damage and Joy is a perfect sounding addition to the Jesus and Mary Chain catalogue, even if it doesn’t quite break new ground or push their sound into any new directions. This is THE JAMC brothers reunited though, so even if their previous 6 studio albums all managed to add something new to their distinct sound and Damage and Joy really doesn’t, it really doesn’t matter. At this point, all that matters is that we have new Jesus and Mary Chain album. After all, who needs to break new ground when you’re in your mid-fifties and already helped inspire a whole genre of music?
“I spent the night with a blow up girl and some LSD/Well the girl didn’t blow up but she made it on the MTV,” sings Jim Reid on “Get On Home,” a paean to rock and roll debauchery, “hearts full of evil,” and “souls full of rock and roll.” Potentially silly stuff coming from a dude in his mid-fifties, but somehow these lyrics, swept up in an unmistakable JAMC groove and guitar swirl, feel as urgent, and relatable to, as anything off of Psychocandy. This is true even if you’re not a teenager yourself anymore.
What’s in one’s heart and soul remains ageless, and the Reids prove this here on Damage and Joy time and again. On “War on Peace,” Jim gives us another version of the truths within his heart and soul with what amounts to an almost dirge-like composition where he reasserts the teenage goth roots of JAMC with lyrics like “Love don’t live here anymore/So don’t come knocking on my door/So what if I run?/Where would I run to?” Looks like we rock and roll fans have the same youthful highs and lows to look forward to when we hit our mid-fifties as well. It’s sad that we won’t be able to express our highs and lows as well as Jim Reid does here, but, again, at least we have a new Jesus and Mary Chain album to helps through that looming time cathartically.
Jim Reid’s vocals harken back to youthful highs and lows on Damage and Joy, but they also revisit the sly snark that they have frequently engaged in before as well. “God Bless America/God Bless the USA/God Lives in America/In the land of the free/Wishing they were dead/Wishing they were dead” sings Jim on “Los Feliz (Blues and Greens),” ambivalently addressing the topsy turvy and seemingly nigh irreconcilable dichotomies that exist in US politics and society right now…whether that was Jim’s intention here or not. Surrounding Jim’s words, William Reid’s breezy acoustic and electric guitars swirl while sweeping you up in their lush landscape as only the best shoegaze can. Jim and William follow their most airy track with their most leaden in “Mood Rider.”
Heavy bass lines and guitar riffs drag the listener back to earth with a thud. “Presidici (Et Chapaqiditch)” bounces along with a pop beat and some uninspired riffing, but the lyrics make up for what the song lacks instrumentally. It’s a mix up of Kennedy worship (again with a heavy dose of snark), T-Rex claws, tiger feet, and the heartfelt declaration that “If you can’t love yourself/It’s bad for your health.” The song is a delightful alphabet soup of stream of consciousness ideas evocative of the album’s cover. “Facing Up to the Facts” rocks just as well as any JAMC hard rockin’ track and contains the lines “I hate my brother and he hates me/That’s that’s the way it’s supposed to be.” Indeed. On “Simian Split,” Jim admits that “I killed Kurt Cobain/I put the shot right through his brain,” obviously speaking metaphorically, while the album’s bassist and producer, Youth (who’s also the bass player for and founding member of Killing Joke), supplies some more thick bass lines. The whole song comes together as a sort of meld of the oddest of Nirvana and The Pixies’ sounds and is definitely the album’s most unique sounding track.
Speaking of other musicians involved with the album, the Reid’s sister Linda, as well as Isobel Campbell and Sky Ferreira, guest vocal on a few duets with Jim, keeping with their tradition of using female vocals on JAMC tracks here and there throughout their history (such as with “Sometimes Always” which featured Hope Sandoval.)
On “Amputation,” Jim declares “I’m a rock and roll amputation,” while admitting to “Tryna win your interest back.” Looking beyond the obvious relationship overtones in these lyrics, it’s easy to surmise that Jim (and William-through his playing) are working to win their audience’s interest back with new material that was prematurely amputated from their catalogue for the past 19 years. It turns out the Jesus and Mary Chain never really lost our interest, just our attention. Thankfully, that’s be remedied. Consider our attention, and admiration, reattached.
Genres: Alternative, Music
Released: Mar 24, 2017
℗ 2016 Artificial Plastic Records