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Album Review
Damage And Joy

Damage And Joy
by The Jesus And Mary Chain

Artificial Plastic Records

Review Date
30th March 2017
Reviewed by
Rangi Powick

It’s been 19 years since The Jesus and Mary Chain released an album. Formed in Scotland in 1983 around the explosive and acrimonious songwriting partnership of brothers Jim and William Reid, JAMC helped set the scene as a cornerstone band of the shoegaze subgenre of indie pop that emerged from the UK in the late 80s. Sub Pop Records released their sixth album Munki in 1998, but sibling rivalry had already gotten the better of the brothers and the band split a year later. When they reformed in 2007 to play a showcase at Lollapalooza, Jim announced that a new album was in the works. Ten years later, it’s finally here.

Damage and Joy wastes no time finding it’s groove. Lead single 'Amputation' bursts out of the gate with a rising squall of feedback. The tune segues and pulses with intent as the JAMC energetically announce their return: “Trying to win your interest back, but you ain’t having none of that”. The upbeat fuzzy stomp of the opener is characteristic of the high points on the album, and there are a lot them. 'All Things Must Pass', 'Always Sad', 'The Two Of Us', 'Presidici', 'Get on Home' and 'Facing Up To The Facts' all bristle with the same snarling confidence of the band’s past hits. These brash rockers make way for an occasional intimate ballad or duet and the album boasts a lineup of achingly beautiful guest voices (Sky Ferreira, Isobel Campbell, et al) . Not all the songs hit home runs though. The ‘God Bless America’ sentiments on a couple of tunes feel unintentionally awkward in this post-truth era.

The Jesus and Mary Chain declared their original intention was to combine 60s rock’n’roll with industrialist noise in order to answer the question "What would it sound like if the Shangri-Las and Einstürzende Neubauten were on the same record?". Now well into their third decade, JAMC have blazed a trail in search of answers to that question, and in the process they forged a sound that an infinite list of descendent bands have since imitated. Damage and Joy may retread that same path but its sugary ‘ooh-la-la-la’ choruses, volcanic guitar noise and driving rhythms fuse together in glorious concert to create album bursting with absolutely iconic pop noise fury.


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