The Jesus and Mary Chain ‘Damage and Joy’ Review: the Reid brother’s successfully reconjure their signature sound on long-awaited reunion disc.
Tryna win your interest back/But you ain’t having none of that/You’re just like a ship in a bottle/Kiss today but fuck tomorrow/I don’t know, I guess that we’re all through.
That’s the opening verse from Amputation, the first single off The Jesus and Mary Chain’s new album Damage and Joy (due out March 24th on ADA/Warner). But despite those self-deprecating lyrics and 19 year gap since their last release (1998’s Munki) the song’s insistent groove proves that brother’s Jim and William Reid haven’t lost a step.
As a result you get the band’s most varied release to date. War On Peace is a striking example, starting off psychedelic and spacey until the band abruptly change tempo into a charging krautrock outro.
One of the most interesting aspects of the album is the addition of female vocals. While this isn’t a first for the band (Hope Sandoval guested on past efforts), it’s more integral than ever before, featuring contributions from Sky Ferreira, Isobel Campbell, Bernadette Denning, and the Reid’s sister Linda.
Always Sad features frontman Jim Reid and Denning acting like lovestruck teenagers over a bubblegum pop melody while The 2 of Us has the euphoric feeling of a schoolyard crush with lyrics from both gender perspectives.
But lest you think the band has made an album full of romantic ballads, they can still get depraved. I spent a night with a blow-up girl and some LSD from surly rocker Get on Home is one notable example while the electronic tinged Simian Twist goes totally off the rails: I killed Kurt Cobain / I put that shot right through his brain/and his wife gave me the hob, because I’m a bit fat lying slob.
That’s one shocking lyrical couplet. Completely offensive, yet thanks to the song’s fever dream atmospherics (courtesy of William Reid’s decadent guitar furor) it comes across as gripping, theatrical satire inspired by controversial documentary Kurt and Courtney.
Perhaps thats the most refreshing aspect of Damage and Joy: this isn’t an album that suggests it was made by men in their 50’s. On songs like MoodRider and All Things Pass the group still sound like the same nihilistic, strung out punks hooked on The Stooges and Beach Boys.
The surly rocket Facing Up To the Facts goofs on the brother’s intense feuding that led to their 90’s breakup: I hate my brother and he hates me/That’s the way it’s supposed to be.
But the final track, the winsome Can’t Stop The Rock sums it up–nearly two decades on, The Jesus and Mary Chain pick up right where they left off, seemingly none the worse for wear.
Damage and Joy, at 14 tracks, is probably a few songs too much, but that’s always been the case for JAMC. Even the lesser efforts remain catchy.
So while Damage and Joy won’t shock the world like their classic debut Psychocandy, it proves their simple yet effective formula endures, and keeps both the band and their fans young at heart. Growing up is so overrated.
Pre-order Damage and Joy on Amazon.