The Jesus And Mary Chain Glasgow Eyes Review: Reid brothers make peace on electrifying eighth album

40 years in, The Jesus And Mary Chain continue to kick against the pricks.

The Jesus And Mary Chain

by Keith Cameron |
Updated on

The Jesus And Mary Chain

Glasgow Eyes


Fuzz Club

IN 1987, The Jesus And Mary Chain released a song called Bo Diddley Is Jesus on a B-side, together with their cover of Diddley’s Who Do You Love. It felt like the new iconoclasts honouring one of rock’n’roll’s true pioneers. Almost 40 years later, the thought occurs that in return Jim and William Reid must have received a hoodoo blessing capable of healing the most grievous wounds. There’s no more likely explanation for this notoriously turbulent partnership still functioning, let alone kicking against the pricks – internal and otherwise – with the levels of vitality displayed here.

This is only the second album of a reunion that began in 2007, almost 10 years after a bitter split. Although 2017’s Damage And Joy was enjoyable enough, its patchwork of new songs with re-recorded solo material suggested a measure of careful brand management. Glasgow Eyes, however, feels much more emotionally invested. In the self-referential Bo Diddley tradition, two keystone songs actually cite the band by name: Jamcod (“J-A-M-C O-D!”) sardonically describes 1998’s on-stage break-up, while the elegiac Second Of June is a chiming hymn to the twisted blood ties that keep the Reids together despite so much accumulated hurt. “All those things are dead,” Jim sings. “Brother, can you hear me calling you?”

Recorded at Mogwai’s Castle Of Doom studio in the Reids’ birth city, Glasgow Eyes’ liberal use of electronic textures is a renewing force, and a kind of homecoming too. With Rezillos’ singer Fay Fife joining Jim for the closest this band will get to a wellness mantra (“I’m all right, I’m OK/Well OK, I’m all right”), opener Venal Joy’s insecticidal pulsations recall 1984’s home demo, the Portastudio recording that future JAMC drummer Bobby Gillespie subsequently described as “Suicide meets Generation X meets The Velvet Underground”, a blueprint that sounds smarter than ever. The Eagles And The Beatles evokes Iggy and his Dum Dum Boys at Chinnichap Productions circa 1974, with namedropping larks galore (“I’ve been rolling with the Stones/Mick and Keith and Brian Jones/Andrew Oldham’s on the phone…”). Mediterranean X Film, meanwhile, is William’s typically idiosyncratic framing of the political/musical post-war-punk interface: “Churchill and De Gaulle/Berlin and the Wall/The Bunny boys and The Fall/I think I loved them all”.

READ MORE: “It’s the Mary Chain gone experimental” Jim Read speaks to MOJO about the band’s new album Glasgow Eyes, intra-band brawling, booze and destroying the myth of the Mary Chain.

Both that song and the groovily numbed out Silver Strings cast JAMC as the house band at a David Lynch sad disco – a role they were born into. Of course, the darklands are never far away, with Chemical Animal repurposing Just Like Honey’s Be My Baby beat for Jim’s haunted analysis of addiction (“I fill myself with chemicals/To hide the dark shit I don’t show”). Yet in its bright, shivery, razor-sharp exposition of the love and devotion which boils at The Jesus And Mary Chain’s heart, Glasgow Eyes is a positive twist in the saga of these negaholics synonymous. Whatever next – a happy ending?

Glasgow Eyes is out now on Fuzz Club.

Listen/buy: Spotify | Apple Music | Amazon | Rough Trade | HMV

Read MOJO's verdict on all the month's best new albums, reissues, books and films in the latest issue of MOJO. More information and to order a copy HERE!

MOJO 366
Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us