The Jesus and Mary Chain return with new album Damage and Joy
A worthy follow-up for those waiting for a continuation of 1998's Munki
Anyone who heard 'Amputation', last year's first foray into new material from East Kilbride's finest since Munki dropped with only modest fanfare in 1998, will be pleased to know that any anti-climax has been contained. Despite the fashionably insouciant, disinterested pose which the Reid Brothers, Jim and William, have made an art of throughout their career, 'Amputation' did a decent job of bringing it to life for real. The tinny drums, by-the-numbers squalling riff and half-hearted 'oo-oo's promised, at best, a modest impersonation of the good old days. It's arguably the worst song here, and it's done and dusted first.
'War on Peace' is much more like it, a song which similarly ambles, but in that hazy, drug-addled fug which Velvet Underground made their own. 'Each day I wake / it's gonna be my last,' Jim incants on 'All Things Pass', with more breezy pop joie de vivre than such fatalism really deserves. That's what classic J&MC should really sound like, although there's something more of their 1990s pop sensibility here than the 80s fuzzy atmospherics.
Producer Youth keeps things clean and interesting, and a procession of female vocalists balance Jim's manly half-sneer. On the stately, swooning grind of 'Always Sad' William's non-singer girlfriend Bernadette Denning is on board while the mighty Isobel Campbell is drafted for 'Song for a Secret' and 'The Two of Us', marshalling Jim from 'too old to crucify / but too young for suicide' to 'I am just glad I found you / I'll wrap myself around you'. And singer-actor Sky Ferreira appears on the dreamily downbeat 'Black and Blues'.
Ultimately, Damage and Joy is a T2:Trainspotting of a record. With the point of it still questionable even as you experience it, the album doubles down on the combination of weather-beaten scuzz and pure Motown pop which you loved about J&MC in the first place.
Damage and Joy is out now on ADA / Warner