Flashback: The Jesus & Mary Chain, Darklands (1987)

JAMC

So much has been written about The Jesus & Mary Chain that chances are this piece will be repetitive and redundant. Nonetheless, this seminal Scottish band’s second record recalls dozens of pleasant memories for me; everything from riding the train in the rain with April Skies blasting in my ears, to sitting in my bedroom on a humid afternoon listening to Deep One Perfect Morning.

Before JAMC, I hadn’t even heard of the genre known as shoegaze. I have no recollection of how I came across the Reid brothers and their fuzzy reverb laden music, besides possibly looking them up after the band name peaked my interest on an internet forum somewhere. Lo and behold a world of noise was opened to me that I previously thought nonexistent.

I saw the band live not long after discovering them, as part of the V Festival lineup. Sure it wasn’t the same band that contorted sound and surprised the musical masses with Psychocandy. But it didn’t matter. The noise was as visceral as ever, Jim Reid’s voice boomed just as emphatically, and their Orange amps glistened from the stage with promise of sonic assault.

Darklands was considered to be the soft second record, stripping away the layers of fuzz to bring the echoing guitars and expressive vocals to the forefront. Nine Million Rainy Days is my favourite song on this record, a pining love song with possibly one of the most beautiful descriptions of infatuating, all consuming affection for another person in the line ‘And the way you are sends the shivers to my head’.

It’s a dark record and the references to dark clouds, rain and dreariness just keep coming. It’s indicative of their cultural placing, growing up in the depression of East Kilbride, Glasgow. Yet for all the gloom there is lightness to be found in songs like Cherry Came Too, with its sweet lyricism.

Darklands remains as proof that the second album shouldn’t be that difficult after all.

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