Album Reviews

The Jesus And Mary Chain – Glasgow Eyes

(Fuzz Club) UK release date: 22 March 2024

The Reid brothers confirm their unlikely status as elder statesmen that a whole new generation can look up to

The Jesus And Mary Chain - Glasgow Eyes If there’s one band from the post-punk explosion that you wouldn’t have expected to still be a going concern in 2024, it’s The Jesus And Mary Chain. The Reid brothers seemed destined to burn out prematurely, with their early gigs often ending in riots when the band finished after 20 minutes of playing with their backs to the audience.

However, since those early days, they’ve pretty much written themselves into alternative rock royalty. Glasgow Eyes is their eighth album (although only their second since their reformation in 2007) and while the almost unlistenable feedback screech of debut record Psychocandy may have long gone, there’s still enough edge to please their hardcore fans.

Glasgow Eyes seems much more of a fully formed ‘band’ album than its predecessor Damage & Joy. That’s not a massive surprise when you consider that Damage & Joy was pieced together from various projects intended for solo release – on Glasgow Eyes, there’s even a track sardonically named after themselves in JAMCOD.

The mood of Glasgow Eyes is dark garage rock, and there’s a hazy, narcotic sheen to many of the tracks. Venal Joy is a dark opener, with a few nods to Primal Scream‘s XTRMNTR era, full of pulsating synths, hypnotic guitar riffs and the sound of Jim Reid beseeching someone to “piss on fire” for some reason. By the time the Rezillos‘ Fay Fife joins in on vocals at the end, you’re fully invested.

That opening track is a bit of an outlier though – the rest of Glasgow Eyes takes some odd but intriguing diversions from straight-ahead punky rock. There’s a brooding quality to Mediterranean X Film, which begins like a Sonic Youth song, and sees Reid namechecking the likes of Iggy Pop, The Fall and Echo & The Bunnymen – “I think I loved them all,” it unexpectedly concludes.

The nostalgic glow is also invoked in one of the album’s best tracks, The Eagles & The Beatles, which boasts a swaggering glam rock-style beat and lyrics that seem to name check The Rolling Stones as much as the titular characters (even Andrew Loog Oldham gets a mention). American Born is another early highlight, a big shouty anthem paying tribute to the influences across the Atlantic (“I look like Americans, I talk like Americans, I’m American born!” sings the extremely Scottish Jim Reid at one point).

In truth, a few of the 12 tracks on Glasgow Eyes tip into filler territory – the mid-section of the record, with tracks like Chemical Animal and Second Of June are a bit dirge-like and slow down the momentum that was built up by The Eagles & The Beatles. However, the almightily noisy (and cutely titled) Hey Lou Reid ends the album on a high note, sounding almost like something Spiritualized would concoct after a few too many substances.

Glasgow Eyes is an album that makes it easy to see why The Jesus And Mary Chain are so revered in the Alternative Rock pantheon. While it inevitably doesn’t have the shattering impact of Psychocandy, it does confirm their unlikely status as elder statesmen that a whole new generation can look up to.

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