[sic] Magazine

The Jesus and Mary Chain – Glasgow Eyes

The Jesus And Mary Chain unveil their eighth studio album, Glasgow Eyes, a record already dividing opinion.

There’s an expectation/fulfilment dynamic to any assessment of new art by a beloved artist, especially returning legends. Do we really need another Darklands or Psychocandy? (Just play those!) Hasn’t that been done to death anyway? Yet, go in with such expectations and you’re bound to be left disillusioned. Glasgow Eyes isn’t beholden to the past. Nor is it confined to either of the Reid brothers specific musical visions. It is what it says on the tin – a new album.

And it is fun.

It’s easy to play Glasgow Eyes in its entirety, without skipping. Not because the whole thing is consistently great but rather the contrary. Glasgow Eyes is an interesting listen, patchy but nonetheless absorbing. Venal Joy opens, and in many ways encapsulates what the album isn’t. This is the JAMC version 2.1 that we expected – the ‘Frankie Teardrop meets Blitzkrieg Bop with electronics’ JAMC and throws up comparisons to the bands heyday. It also pales against said comparisons. I suspect this was a deliberate choice by William and Jim. Half-arsed lyrics only add to the sense of Reid tongues pressed firmly inside cheeks. It is them saying ‘Sure, we’ve got this in our locker but wait for it..….’

The rest goes to whole new levels of bonkers. Filthy, sludge-rock gives way to krautrock, post punk and even Goth. There are so many parodies within parodies here that Glasgow Eyes is practically meta. All of this begs the question, what is a new JAMC record really for? Cynics might say it’s a vehicle for new merch, new logos and a tour. Utter bollocks. JAMC don’t need that. They’re on a 40th anniversary tour anyway. An artistic statement then, of a band still relevant, still putting out cutting edge work? Nay, nay and thrice nay. JAMC already cut rock ‘n’ rolls edges clean off, scuffed them up, stuck them back on, bought the t-shirt and probably spilt something icky on it. Instead, Glasgow Eyes is a celebration of arch malingering – the work of a band who know they aren’t innovating anymore and are supremely comfortable with that. We do have to pan a bit for the gold on this record. The Reids know which songs those are. Girl 71, jamcod and the outstanding Chemical Animal have all been incorporated into recent setlists. However, punctuating the good is some truly toe-curling stuff. At times it’s like a cornered, wounded, feral beast – the sound of a band collapsing and not giving a fuck. That’s Glasgow Eyes in a nutshell – snarling and slightly gamey.

We can be purists about the musicians we love. We can compare everything, endlessly and spend our lives dissatisfied. Maybe we were there in 1985 watching 20 minutes of chaos – two intoxicated brothers smashing their equipment, each other and sometimes their audience. We can tell our grandkids ‘We saw the Jesus and Mary Chain’. Except…. it wasn’t always a terribly good night out whereas Glasgow Eyes is a fucking great night in.

Bring popcorn.

Salty, obviously.

Buy the album.