The Jesus and Mary Chain are back with their first full-length LP since 1998. Once considered a major player in the booming Independent music scene of the 1980s, as well as Alan McGee’s Creation Records. The Mary Chain’s last output, 1999’s Munki saw mixed reviews, a less profound chart impact, as well as a deteriorating relationship between Jim and William Reid.
When I listen to Damage and Joy, it’s hard not to think about the Jesus and Mary Chain of old, where every gig ended with riots which were about as violent as their guitar feedback.
Amputation gets things started, released as a single late last year it sets the precedent for the rest of the record. And it’s right here when it becomes obvious that this isn’t going to be the same as great Mary Chain albums like Psychocandy and Darklands.
What frustrates me about this record is that the Reid brothers have stripped down what really made them special, the sense of angst and aggression that seems to only stem from youth.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a good album, the songs are well constructed, the lyrics are timely and relevant, it is a well-crafted piece of work, but it’s just not the Jesus and Mary Chain.
I’d compare Damage and Joy to the later work of a band like Oasis; it’s good, great even, but it just lacks that distinct sound that made each band what they were.
My personal favourite from Damage and Joy is Song for a Secret, the guitar playing on this song is the nearest thing to the old playing style from classic Mary Chain songs like Never Understand and Upside Down, the feedback is stripped down but it is still reminiscent of better albums from Jim and William Reid.
I do like Damage and Joy, and I was excited when I heard about its release. If I didn’t know that it was a Jesus and Mary Chain album I would’ve really loved it, the melodies are hypnotic and the melodies are great.
However, my judgement is tainted by how much I love the early Jesus and Mary Chain material, back when they were signed to Creation Records and truly didn’t give a shit about anything.
A good album, but definitely one of the weakest outputs by the Reid brothers.
Plugged Score: 67/100
Words by Sam Revivo – Plugged Music Editor