Thursday, August 6, 2009

Jesus & Mary Chain - Darklands

(Blanco Y Negro, 1987)

The Darklands LP did mark something of a shift away from chaotic amp-skree and towards mainstream professionalism, but, as the title track demonstrates, that’s not necessarily a bad move for a pop-savvy band like JAMC to make. Stripping away the over-use of noise-for-noise’s-sake lets the ear focus on the group’s consistently excellent melodies and, here especially, the breathy vocals and chiming guitars that make this period’s surprisingly mature songs, at their best, stone-cold late-night bummer-classics – indeed, as a front-to-back listen, Darklands is actually a better album experience than the ballyhooed debut. The B-sides to this single, however, are nothing special. “Rider” is basically a sub-Psychocandy rocker with drum-machine backing, and “On the Wall (Portastudio Demo),” while pleasingly morose and featuring a quite different rhythm track from the LP version, isn’t substantial enough to merit any real excitement.

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