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The Jesus and Mary Chain - “Damage and Joy” (2017) review


The Jesus and Mary Chain - Damage and Joy (2017)

Over the years Jesus & Mary Chain have fallen in and out of fashion, though with the release of Damage and Joy, we find the sonic duo still rolling on and dishing out material that’s as relevant today as it ever was.  

Some will suggest that just because the past can be repeated, that it’s not always a wise or good idea … though you can toss that notion right out the window, as the album is a firm step in the musical journey of Jesus & Mary Chain, where this time out, the release is more warmly constructed than I would have expected, and am delighted that they’ve done so. You’ll find that their songs ebb and flow, building constructed washes of passion that are lightly layered, yet still filled with those jangling guitar drenched lyrics, along with vocals that sound more secure and surefooted, still sounding eloquently wasted, though strong, with more mature and refined deliveries that come across with grace and style … [laughing] like new jeans that fit just right, and you know you look so damn good in them that it takes your breath away.

If there’s any change from their previous incarnation, it’s that the instrumentation is more purposeful and delicious. While Damage and Joy still retains that dark feel, it seems to be delivered in the hazy intoxication of a setting sun, where long fingers of musical notes are reaching out to shower passing clouds with spectacular tonal colours and a majestic sound that doesn’t so much rain down on the listener, more that it shimmers, like heatwaves rising off of the macadam of a long forgotten sunbaked road lost in the middle of nowhere. And therein lies, for me, the essence of this album, that it has a sense of longing and loneliness, yet without a care in the world, laid out with reverb, sensitivity, and enough intelligence to hold your attention for nights on end. While seamlessly constructed and delivered with a rhythmic percussion traveling along at a heartbeat level, washed in waves of foam, almost nervously settling over you like a fever dream you simply can’t escape from, and all spurred on by the raptured splendor of a day moon hanging low on the horizon.  

With music and verse that is beholding to no one, Jesus and Mary Chain [by the way, which one’s Jesus?] have created an atmosphere most suitable for when you want to feel alone in the crowd, carving out your own space, and keenly aware of things you’ve never noticed before.

I assure you, this is not the album you have expected or anticipated, and it will deliver all I’ve promised and so much more … so settle back, lower the tonearm, and let Jesus and Mary Chain reach out and grab your soul, journeying you into the next century.

*** The Fun Facts: Dropping the ‘Daisy Chain’ for something more controversial and dark, the imaginative William Reid then came up with The Jesus and Mary Chain, which did sound a bit darker, more surreal, and just confusing enough to describe the band perfectly, with Reid saying, “It sounded like a psychedelic punk street gang, conjuring up amazing images.” Of courses rumors being what they are, swirled around the name, with the band claiming and then denying that it had been lifted from a line in a Bing Crosby film. There’s another story, also supported by the Reid’s that they had spotted an offer for a ‘gold Jesus and Mary chain’ on the back of a cereal box … though if they ever purchased it, is anyone’s guess. With both being believable, it’s important to remember that our duo are experts at both extracting and transforming the mundane. Perhaps being fed up with the question of the name’s genesis, William Reid has as of late claimed that that the idea for the name just floated to him out of thin air, and certainly not being divinely inspired. Either way, it works, though if I were you, and you mange to speak with the dynamic duo, it’s a question perhaps better not asked.

- Jenell Kesler
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