When does a trademark become a cliché? In the instance of The Jesus and Mary Chain, it’s often hard to tell. Out of context, this LP is filled with platitudes: lyrics we’ve all heard before, guitar lines that JAMC know work well, and of course, the usual feedback and fuzz – no surprise given that many of these songs are reworked, re-recorded songs from the Reids' Sister Vanilla and Freeheat projects.
For fans of the band, this should work seamlessly, because it’s all the things The Jesus and Mary Chain are notoriously best at. Jim Reid’s provocative lyricism is still at play, though so is his seeming indignance, with a snarl that occasionally veers from obnoxious Mancunian to American-tinged trad-rock, continuing to sound like the least Scottish Scottish band of all time.
Damage and Joy triumphs far more than it disappoints: Always Sad’s 60s pop melody recalls the happy/melancholy juxtapositions of classic JAMC songs, while the excellent The Two of Us features an introduction that’s eerily, but brilliantly, similar to The Modern Lovers’ Roadrunner. In all, after 18 very long years, Damage and Joy is a near-faultless return to form, even if some of these 'new' songs are actually over a decade old.
Listen to: Always Sad, The Two of Us
Buy The Jesus & Mary Chain - Damage and Joy on Double LP/CD/Cassette tape from Norman Records