Jesus & Mary Chain, The - Glasgow Eyes

Regular price $ 50.99

On 2xLP Frosted Clear Vinyl

By all rights, the Jesus and Mary Chain probably shouldn't be making albums in 2024 considering it marked their 40th very turbulent year making music. After all the drugs, the fights, albums that never reached the staggering heights of their best work, changing trends, and hits-filled concerts, even the band's biggest backer had to be doubtful that they would ever make a record that had the power, vitriol, and energy of their best work. Amazingly, painfully, Glasgow Eyes is both a stunning reclamation of the soul of JAMC and a painful trip to the bottom of the barrel, possibly the deepest trip there the band have ever taken. Luckily, it leans a touch more strongly towards the former, with many of the tracks digging deep into the group's ugly past of disagreements, fights, drug abuse, and desolation to pluck out songs that are as bleakly honest, darkly painted, and gnarly as anything they've done. To take two, "Venal Joy," which sports a brilliant vocal cameo from Faye Fife of Revillos/Rezillos fame, and "jamcod" are lyrically unvarnished and sonically thrilling. They show the band expanding their reach to encompass synths, unspooling some very grungy guitars, and going far beyond the formulaic politeness of much of their latter work. Other songs exhibit traces of the avant-garde jazz the Reid brothers had recently been listening to. One can hear it in the off-rhythm guitar squiggles of the slow-motion ballad "Pure Poor," which wobbles and shakes like a giant piece of industrial machinery on its last legs, as well as the occasional fragments of piano on a few songs or the way William Reid's guitar consistently tends to meander ghostlike around the edges of the melody. They also delve nicely into some clanky synth pop on "Silver Strings" and slip into peacefully drifting dream pop on the lengthy "Hey Lou Reid," which takes its time going nowhere as the guitars chime and stray synths buzz the mix. The band sound fully committed on this segment of the album, dedicated to taking their all-too-familiar sound somewhere more interesting and, importantly, more honest. Unfortunately, too much of the rest of the record is either quite familiar or frightening banal. The trademark JAMC pop songs aren't that bad, as they do help to balance some of the darkness; "American Born" is a hooky snatch of Reid-style snark set to a good beat, and "Second of June" conjures up sepia-toned memories of Stoned and Dethroned, only needing a Hope Sandoval cameo to make it perfect. These type of songs are fine, very much keeping in the JAMC tradition. Where it really goes awry is when they stumble into simple-minded pop tunes like "Girl 71" and "The Eagles and the Beatles" that pair chord changes and lyrics so clichéd and silly that listeners will be frantically diving for the tone arm to skip to the next song. How these mindless songs ended up on a record with some of the group's most gripping work in decades is a mystery Sherlock Holmes might find too puzzling. Skip the dogs, stick to the weird, raw, and experimental songs, and Glasgow Eyes might be considered one of the band's best albums in a very long time. Add them back and it makes for a frustrating and exhilarating listening experience that's brutally honest, completely ridiculous, and in some ways it sums up everything good and bad about the Jesus and Mary Chain all on one slab of plastic.

A1 Venal Joy
A2 American Born
A3 Mediterranean X Film
A4 Jamcod
A5 Discotheque
A6 Pure Poor
B1 The Eagles and The Beatles
B2 Silver Strings
B3 Chemical Animal
B4 Second Of June
B5 Girl 71
B6 Hey Lou Reed