Nearly Perfect Albums #22

Cherry Came Too – Jesus and Mary Chain (1987, Blanco Y Negro Records)

I can I think almost picture the conversation.  Its late in the year 1986, The Jesus and Mary Chain are sitting in a dark room, its light outside but they’ve drawn the curtains obviously.  William looks at Jim and shrugs his shoulders and says “Where do we go now?”.

It would have been a good question.  How do you follow ‘Psychocandy’ a record so utterly perfect?  The answer was something of a surprise (possibly even to the band themselves I would wager), but ultimately in something almost as perfect.  As you might have guessed, ‘Darklands’ is the second best record that the Jesus and Mary Chain ever released, and they join a pretty select group who could have had more than one record in this list. 

‘Darklands’ is of course an entirely different beast to its predecessor, for a start it uses a drum machine instead of Bobby Gillespie’s tribal drumming.  They also turned down the noise, lost most of the gnarky attitude, stripped back the sound, embraced melody and made a bunch of pop songs.  They were, and remain an absolute joy.  Tracks like ‘Happy When It Rains’ and ‘April Skies’ are full of big jangly hooks and at the time were so cool, they were literally wearing a vintage leather jackets and some very dark shades.   They were moody but romantic but not in a sickly treacly way that perhaps other guitar bands from the 80s were guilty of.

Happy When It Rains – Jesus and Mary Chain (19987, Blanco Y Negro Records)

April Skies – Jesus and Mary Chain (1987, Blanco Y Negro Records)

‘April Skies’ of course blasted the band into the top 10 and the front cover of both the NME and Smash Hits (note to self – do a series on bands who have appeared on the cover of both Smash Hits and NME) – the latter of course called them “Noisy, spotty and weird”.   There is nothing weird, noisy and spotty about ‘April Skies’ or for that matter the gorgeous title track.  Both are pretty damn essential

Darklands – Jesus and Mary Chain (1987, Blanco Y Negro Records)

(And here just for interest is Fontaines D.C’s version, which is intriguingly wonderful)

The embracing of melody was to some extent a curveball from the Reid Brothers, because ‘Darklands’ is cluttered with it.  Even the songs that probably owe more to ‘Psychocandy’ than ‘Darklands’ are soaked in a pop mentality.  ‘Down on Me’ for instance, the echo-y vocals, the pained growls, all seen aplenty in the debut are all there, but underneath all of that, there is a killer riff that you expect to be drowned out in feedback but it isn’t and it positively glows because of it.  It would have sounded awful on ‘Psychocandy’ but here on ‘Darklands’ it sounds magnificent.

Down on Me – Jesus and Mary Chain (1987, Blanco Y Negro Records)

2 Comments

  1. JC says:

    I’ll say it.

    Darklands is a better listen thse days than Psychocandy. The debut may have been the more important of the two, but the follow-up is the one which has aged much better.

    Like

    1. barrystubbs says:

      It’s certainly the one right down I listen to more. But it’s still not as good.

      Like

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