Old rockers make tunes for fresh ears

The Jesus and Mary Chain’s first output of new material since 1998 has them right back in stride.

Since their initial success in the early 80s, The Jesus and Mary Chain have dipped up and down in internal band quarrels and popularity shifts from the U.K. to the U.S. However, during that time, they have provided some great pop songs with their own twist and an influence on bands like My Bloody Valentine, Lush, Pity Sex and Dinosaur Jr.

Regardless of their history, their new LP, “Damage and Joy,” shows The Jesus and Mary Chain putting out some catchy, moody songs that their time away clearly did not affect. Their simple but unique style, with the mechanized drum machine parts and pop song formula, make for a cohesive and memorable experience.

The album was produced by Youth, and features members of Killing Joke, Isobel Campbell (of Belle and Sebastian fame) and Sky Ferreira as guest vocal parts. This all works perfectly behind the dreamy guitar parts.

They use the male and female verse trade-off formula that’s found in pop songs from the ’50s and ’60s, and keep it interesting with the stories they tell. For example in “The Two of Us,” singers trade verses talking about meeting up and getting high, but not with drugs, because they “know how to fly.”

The Jesus and Mary Chain use this formula well, with a tried and true sound while simultaneously using their own twist of fuzzy, delayed guitars and lazy sounding vocals.

One critique that could be made is that in the structure that they use for the songs, they can sometimes be classified as boring. Pop formula isn’t always the biggest showcase for virtuosity or creative songwriting, but The Jesus and Mary Chain are no rookies; they are consistently able to keep the music interesting. That being said, it may be tough to enjoy if simple pop songs aren’t in one’s repertoire, because that’s all some of these songs are.

These songs have a cleaner guitar tone, and less punky and heavy-sounding songs. The main feeling is still there, but their determination to move to a cleaner sound as the band has gotten older and presumably wiser when it comes to deciding what they can do with their sound has worked well on this LP.

Grade: B

Songs to listen to: “Always Sad,” “Mood Rider” and “Can’t Stop The Rock”

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