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The Jesus and Mary Chain - Damage and Joy (Album Review)

Wednesday, 29 March 2017 Written by Graeme Marsh

Only a tone-deaf, mainstream-loving sheep could fail to be excited about a new album from the legendary Jesus and Mary Chain. Arriving almost 20 years since the band’s sixth studio LP, ‘Munki’, and a decade since the Reid brothers put aside their rivalry to initially reform, ‘Damage and Joy’ is a welcome return even if it does largely resemble an echo from the past.

With Killing Joke founding member Martin Glover (aka Youth) brought in as producer, they decamped to his remote Spanish studio to record an album that they viewed as the band’s last chance saloon. The pressure this brought weighed on both brothers.

Much of the album, though, is old material. During the years between the infamous American tour spat that brought about their abrupt split and their reunion, the Reids both released music away from each other.

Some of these tracks are regurgitated here, while another chunk of the album is comprised of duets with female vocalists that at times recall the brilliant Sometimes Always single recorded with Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval for 1994’s ‘Stoned & Dethroned’.

‘Damage and Joy’ opens with swirling noise as the excellent Amputation raises the curtain in impressive fashion. The band turn back the clock to sound just like they did back in the good old days and, honestly, it’s like they’ve never been away.

At various points there are fleeting krautrock moments - on the Brian Jonestown Massacre-esque War on Peace and the stomping All Things Pass - while Presidici (Et Chapaquiditch) pairs lyrics about chicken fried rice and Christopher Walken with sparkly pop and melodic guitars. Get On Home, meanwhile, mixes the drum machine beats that most notably appeared on 1989’s ‘Automatic’ with a splash of rock ‘n’ roll.

Of the numerous duets, Black and Blues with Sky Ferreira is perhaps the best. “Yeah, it’s just a bitch,” they sing before the guitars kick and they talk of leaving this world behind. Other collaborators include Isobel Campbell (on the excellent Song For A Secret, the track most reminiscent of Sometimes, Always, and The Two Of Us), the Reid brothers’ sister Linda Fox (on the genteel Los Feliz (Blues and Greens) and closer Can’t Stop The Rock), and Bernadette Denning (on Always Sad).

Consisting of 14 tracks, ‘Damage and Joy’ is probably longer than it needs to be, though. As such, things do become a little repetitive by the end. But fans who feared the worst will nevertheless encounter an album far better than most could have hoped for. It is a worthy addition to their catalogue despite its impact being dampened by a belated arrival. The only question is, will many teenagers, or an older audience for that matter, want to listen to rants about girls, drugs, and being young and free from a couple of guys in their mid-to-late ‘50s?

The Jesus And Mary Chain Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Wed March 29 2017 - BRISTOL O2 Academy Bristol
Fri March 31 2017 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Institute
Sat April 01 2017 - BOURNEMOUTH O2 Academy Bournemouth
Sun April 02 2017 - OXFORD O2 Academy Oxford
Mon April 03 2017 - CAMBRIDGE Junction 1
Wed April 05 2017 - LONDON O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire
Thu April 06 2017 - BEXHILL ON SEA De La Warr Pavilion
Fri April 07 2017 - DUBLIN Academy

Click here to compare & buy The Jesus And Mary Chain Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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