- Audio CD (12 Nov. 1994)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: Original recording reissued
- Label: WARNER BROS
- ASIN: B00000I2UE
- Other Editions: Audio CD | Audio Cassette | Vinyl | MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 47,802 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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Darklands Original recording reissued
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Audio CD, Original recording remastered, 10 Jul 2006
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Jesus And Mary Chain - Darklands - Cd
It is a rare band that ever recovers from releasing a genuinely classic and revolutionary debut album. The Jesus & Mary Chain succeeded with almost indecent ease, leaving their legion followers and assorted stragglers and chancers to pick at the carcass of Psychocandy while they busied themselves making an album that was, arguably, even better. Darklands saw the Mary Chain take the audacious step of abandoning their signature motif-feedback--which suggested that either they thought they'd made their point or had finally figured out how their amplifiers worked. Instead, they chose to make an issue of the acute melodic sense that had underpinned the squalling racket of Psychocandy. Darklands boasted a bunch of tunes that Brian Wilson himself would have been delighted to have written (indeed, in "Cherry Came Too", it boasted at least one "Surfin' Safari", to be specific--that Brian Wilson already had written, but the Mary Chain have always had the sense to steal from the best). The two singles, "April Skies" and "Happy When It Rains" were both deservedly hailed as classics, and both served notice that Jim Reid was a fine rock & roll singer, possessed of an admirable laconic sneer. --Andrew Mueller
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The first two singles, 'April Skies' and 'Happy When It Rains', are cut from the same cloth - irresistible, chugging rock songs with memorable hooks.
'Deep One Perfect Morning' nods to Johnny Cash, a good 10 years before he became a fashionable name to drop. 'Cherry Came Too' is the best song Brian Wilson never wrote, and 'Fall' will delight anyone who thinks 'I Wanna Be Your Dog' by The Stooges is one of the best rock'n'roll songs ever.
William Reid takes over vocal duties for 3 of the slower songs on the album - the elegant 'Darklands', the epic miserablism of 'Nine Million Rainy Days' and 'On The Wall', to my mind the only duff track on the album.
The album concludes with one of the Reids' warm, acoustic ballads, 'About You.'
I still regularly play this album almost 20 years after it was released. It's an object lesson in how to make a timeless guitar record.
Even though "Psycho Candy" was a great album, the song writing tended to get lost underneath the impenetratable sheets of feedback that were so central to the album's sound. There are no such problems on "Dark Lands", the dissonant, Sonic Youth-style guitar noise that was so prevelant on "Psycho Candy" is largely absent, allowing the Reid's love of the melodic and gift for melody to shine through. Their debt to the Velvet Underground is not as over bearing as it was on "Psycho Candy", and the Velvet Underground influences on "Dark Lands" hark back to songs like "Sunday Morning" and "There She Goes Again" rather than the primal, proto-punk noise of "White Light/White Heat". On this album, the Reid brothers draw from a wider range of influences and this is immediately apparent from the melodic opening of the lead, title track. The song "Dark Lands" is driven by a melodic bass line and acoustic guitar on the verses before exploding into a melodic, but noisy and distorted, guitar-driven chorus. It reveals a greater understanding of melody than most of "Psycho Candy" did, and the chorus hangs around dead pan delivery of "do, do, do, dooh", similar to Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side".
Far from all sounding the same, as "Psycho Candy" did, "Dark Lands" sounds distinctly different from track to track. "Deep One Perfect Morning" sounds very much like early period Velvet Underground, and "Nine Million Rainy Days" laces a poppy melody with freeze dried, gothic vocals and a dark, brooding backing track. It is this diversity of influences that makes "Dark Lands" more interesting than "Psycho Candy" or any of their other albums for that matter. However, it is still possible to trace this album back to "Psycho Candy", with "Fall" sounding like "Psycho Candy" would have done without all those extra layers of feedback.
Lyrically, most of the songs are about love but not in the traditional sense. It is a kind of love were the people involved know that it will all end in tears and know that they don't deserve one another. A very gothic take on a traditional song writers topic. Like the music, the vocal melodies on this album are not as indebted to the Velvet Underground as they were on "Psycho Candy", with the melody to "Fall" sounding very much like REM during their IRS years. The singles "April Skies" and "Happy When it Rains" are quintessential '80s indie songs, the former a downbeat, world weary pop song that comes across as what Tears For Fears would have sounded like if they had traded in their synthesizers for guitars, and the latter is a catchy upbeat pop song that lies somewhere between the melodic noise of the Pixies and the jangly guitar pop of the Smiths and the Wedding Present.
So there you go. I am someone who is pretty difficult to please and doesn't give out 5 star reviews that often any more. I used to, and so a lot of my older reviews mean little to nothing... but this is no such review. "Dark Lands" is the best record the Jesus & Mary Chain ever released, not as noisy as "Psycho Candy" and not as dance influenced as "Honey's Dead". Buy it if you want to hear a great collection of songs that are interesting but conventional, loud but melodic and clever but simple... you could do a lot worse!
In my opinion this record is the natural evolution of the sound contained within their debut. Sure the group's 'trademark' feedback has been replaced with a cleaner guitar sound that betrays the brother's love for Americana but the substantive content remains the same - solid song writing, strong melodies and pure pop sensibility. There is a slight shift in subject matter, with the brothers taking a tighter focus upon lost, or misplaced love, and feelings of despair and angst. On the surface rather gloomy subject matter but in reality the staple diet for quality pop songs since the dawn of vinyl.
"April Skies", "Happy when it rains" and "Nine million rainy days" are all perfect break-up pop songs that still hit the right spot (somewhere dead centre of your heart) over twenty years after their original release.
Fortunately, the prospect is not all gloomy. Tracks like "Cherry Came Too" and "About you" point towards potentially happier times ahead for the listener, providing a useful balance to this record that is missing from their earlier (but still excellent) work "Psychocandy".
In a funny sort of way the lyrical qualities of the songs contained within this album are, in my humble opinion, just as good as anything that came out of the Brill Building back in the golden age of pop. There is a genuine sense of empathy and engagement between the band and the listener throughout this record - teenage listeners take note, this record remains relevant to you. Recommended for nostalgic curmudgeons and heartbroken teens alike.