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Friday 22 March 2024

Glasgow Eyes

The new Jesus And Mary Chain album, Glasgow Eyes, is out today, the first since Damage And Joy in 2017. Jim and William Reid recorded it at Mogwai's studio in Glasgow, the aptly named Castle Of Doom, and it comes out forty years after their debut Psychocandy- it shares some of that albums DNA, an uncompromising nature and a general sense that the brothers recorded it while feeling pretty pissed off. 

The songs on Damage And Joy were to some extent a celebration, the classic Mary Chain guitars, verses and chorus sound, about as sunny side up as Jim and William can ever be. Glasgow Eyes is different, it feels a bit broken down, skittery and fragmented. The songs have drum machines that hiss and pound, on some songs hammering away and on others spluttering. William plays some filthy lead lines, squally guitar sounds. There are some chugging, descending basslines of the sort that have underpinned JAMC songs since the Darklands album in 1987. There are stuttering synths and static, lo fi electronics and FX, the ghost of Suicide hanging around. Sometimes the songs take shape and then fall apart. It sounds like an album, like a group of songs recorded at the same time, some written in the studio, experiments turned into tunes. Girl71 is an outlier, a song more typical of their April Skies and Damage And Joy sound, a melodic three chord trick with uncharacteristically optimistic vocals. 

For much of Glasgow Eyes Jim's words and vocals swing between his customary self- loathing and misanthropy, dark pain numbed by drink and drugs, blank eyes and sneery voice and an often expressed love- for 'her/ she', for 'you', for 'everyone', for rock 'n' roll, for discotheques, for The Stones, Bob Dylan and the Beach Boys, the Pistols and The Crystals and The Velvets. Last song Lou Reid is six minutes of stop- start dynamics, rising and falling tempos and William's feedback. On The Eagles And The Beatles, over some chords Joan Jett left lying around, Jim almost tips into self- parody- 'I've been rolling with The Stones/ Mick and Keith and Brian Jones/ Bill and Charlie have gone home/ Andrew Oldham's on the phone'. Somehow, through a combination of blank eyed cool and sheer conviction, he gets away with it and by the second or third listen you're singing along. On the first single JAMCOD he sings about the band, the brothers and their bust up in 1998 that finished them first time around, and on another he sings the name of his band. It's a close knit, insular, self referential world they inhabit. 

Opening song Venal Joy spits its way into the world, clattering in on a synth riff and drum machine that could have last seen the light of day on 1989's Automatic and Jim kicking off with, 'You got a kingdom come but you don't have a future/  I know you like to be cool but it just doesn't suit ya/ I was kicking the cane cos the cane wasn't able/ I'm addicted to love so we can fuck on the table...'. They sound not exactly energised (half the time they sound like the made some of this lying down) but they do sound plugged in, like they give a shit and made a record they wanted to. 

I'm going to see them do it live tonight and will report back forthwith. In fact through a turn of events I won't go into here I've got two spares- if anyone's in Manchester tonight with nothing to do and they fancy an evening with the Reid brothers, give me a shout. 

And finally, this may seem cryptic but it's a message to Geoff who will understand- for many reasons you're going to need a lot of love and strength to get through today. I will be thinking of you and will raise a pint to you tonight. 


Anonymous said...

I'd love to see JAMC but Manchester is a bit of a stretch. Swc.

Khayem said...

2024’s proving to be quite a year for you on the gig front, Adam. Hope you have a great time tonight & that you get takers for the tickets. I’m a bit closer than SWC to Manchester, unfortunately just that bit too far away to get there tonight.

And a great review of the album. It was on my list to get eventually but your words have bumped it up considerably. Thanks!

Charity Chic said...

I'm not a huge fan of the band but a fellow blogger shared a copy of the album with me.
I quite enjoyed it.

Swiss Adam said...

Swc- yep, Devon to Manchester for a gig is a trek.
Kaheym- I wasn't expecting to go, missed out on tickets when they went on sale. The tickets came to me a week ago. The album took me a few listens to get into, the 1st time I was a bit bemused by it. It grew on me after a few listens.

Jez said...

The album is a little bit odd and then seems business as usual for the brothers, its a good one. Looking forward to seeing them in London. Hope they were good whenh you see them

Tom W said...

I did wonder if this was another gig where we'd both be in attendance but forgot to check the blog on Friday. Fantastic gig, wave after wave of crashing guitar noise. I was up on the mezzanine for a change, looking down on one big bald bloke's lone attempts to start a mosh pit from above.

Swiss Adam said...

I was standing downstairs, left hand side, saw the attempts at a mosh pit going on. They were very good weren't they, very on it. Full review appearing here imminently.