The Jesus and Mary Chain: Glasgow Eyes (digital outlets)

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Chemical Animal
The Jesus and Mary Chain: Glasgow Eyes (digital outlets)

Sibling rivalry in bands – almost exclusively the preserve of males – can have all the deep divisions of a Balkan conflict but is often traced to petty jealousies and arguments with all the intelligence of a playground spat.

Who really knows, or cares, what pulled Ray and Dave Davies apart, was the source of division between Rich and Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes, why the Everly Brothers stopped talking to each other and . . . ?

We allow the Gallaghers exemption here because their lobs at each other are often funny in just how juvenile but pointed they are.

But the Reid brothers in the JAMC?

It was decades ago when Jim and William split up acrimoniously.

But then came the inevitable reunion of sorts – the BeeGees quickly figured out they were better and more successful together than apart.

The Reids/JAMC released Damage and Joy in 2017.

At the time we said of it, “Over the 15 song haul this too often sounds bloodless and even casually dismissive. That latter quality has always been evident, but when they soaked it in feedback it sounded willfully adolescent, stroppy and cooly indifferent. Here too often it sounds like they are going through old (e)motions”.

We also noted their familiar starting points (Beach Boys, Ramones, girl groups and Velvet Underground).

But this new album sounds a much more complete piece where the mortar between their archetypal sound is electronic and some of the lyrics don't shy away from their sibling rivalry and conciliatory gestures.

Those previously mentioned reference points remain intact but there's a measure of diluted Trent Reznor and the spirit of Bowie here too, the latter notably on the glam-rock guitar groove of Girl 71 (which also comes off like a polite Troggs and bubblegum pop).

But the brothers also sound like they are up for a bit of throwaway fun: a pop song titled The Eagles and the Beatles has a lyric about the Rolling Stones (“Mick and Keith and Brian, Andrew Oldham's on the phone”) and American Born is stab at both American rock and those who pose as Americans with a nod to Bowie's I'm Afraid of Americans.

There's also a real throbbing art-rock pulse driving some of these songs, notably Mediterranean X Film – nut-job lyrics – and Chemical Animal (which sounds like the gloomy indie-rock Nineties is being channeled).

They also reference themselves on Jamcod which addresses their physical fisticuffs over a bass which conjures up the Cure behind the electronic washes, and on the similarly conceived Chemical Animal: “I fill myself with chemicals to hide the dark shit I don't show”.

The Reids seem to have buried the hatchet but not their past glories and low points,so Glasgow Eyes is a sound, if unexceptional, rock album full of the familiar . . . but also a sense of mischief about it.

Good to have them back, albeit as a different JAMC again.


You can hear and buy this album at bandcamp here

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