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Bruised and bruising swansong for indie noiserockers
on 15 January 2001
Hailed by some as the saviours of rock'n'roll on the release of their debut LP 'Pychocandy' in 1985, it was perhaps inevitable that the Jesus and Mary Chain's career path would be downhill from thereon in. This, their last record, originally appeared in 1999 to widespread disinterest and the band split up soon after, bitter and disillusioned. It's a good record though, sometimes a fantastic record one, though at other times it is admittedly a little hard on the ears. The tension between Jim and William Reid, the brothers from East Kilbride who basically were the band, is nowhere more evident than it is here. Jim's songs are upbeat and melodic, celebrating his life and what he has made of it with music, as on the opening blast of 'I Love Rock'n'Roll' and the heartfelt 'Stardust Remedy'. One wonders to what extent Jim's optimism is an attempt to annoy his famously surly brother Wiliam, whose bitterness, misanthropy and self hatred manifest themselves in a number of uncompromising songs. On some, like 'Birthday' and 'Cracking Up', the result is bracing, dynamic, a perfect demonstration of the group's mastery of indie-rock dynamics; elsewhere, as in 'Commercial' and 'Degenerate', it's a (no doubt intentionally) bruising grind. The album is by no means unremittingly grim, however. Guest appearances by the brothers' sister on 'Mo Tucker' and Mazzy Star singer Hope Sandovaal on 'Honey' provide light relief and musical variety, while several more delicate songs towards the end, William's 'Never Understood' and 'I Can't Find the Time for Times' and Jim's 'Man in the Moon' and 'Dream Lover' prove that both could write impeccably melodic, sensitive, even moving pop music when they so chose. The album ends, however, with 'I Hate Rock'n'Roll', William's bitter tirade against the music industry by which he felt so wronged, and one can't help but think that if they felt like that about it, it's probably just as well they gave it up. While they lasted, though, they were unique, and this is a great lost album.