The Jesus and Mary Chain



by Scott Herren USER (42 Reviews)
January 16th, 2005 | 170 replies

Release Date: 1985 | Tracklist

#268 on Rolling Stone Top 500 Albums List

Released: 1985

The Jesus and Mary Chain was formed in Glasgow Scotland in the mid-1980's. They were one of the pioneers of white noise, and their sound which is heavy in feedback was inspired bands such as Dinosaur Jr., and My Bloody Valentine. The biggest influences for the Jesus and Mary Chain were punk legends The Velvet Underground and The Stooges, and also pop legends Phil Spector and Brian Wilson. The resulting sound is dark and bare, but ladened with sugary melodies. The band consists of brothers William and Jim Reid, Douglas Hart, and Bobby Gillespie (who later went on to help form Primal Scream).

Psychocandy was released in 1985, and marks the debut album for The Jesus and Mary Chain. On it, they implement just one style, one trick if you will, but oh man it is a great one. They combine Velvet Underground feedback and beats with Beach Boy melodies. The feedback is turned up as high as it goes, and the echo is plentiful. With this album, The Jesus and Mary Chain caused a movement in shoegazer and britpop, as more and more bands began to use the echo sound that is so perfect on this album.

There are two types of song on the album. There are the songs with the sugary pop melodies like "Just Like Honey", "You Trip Me Up", and "Never Understand" that don't crank up the feedback as high. Then there are also songs that are so amped up in feedback as that the song becomes a mess of sound. What great messes they are though, see "The Living End", "In A Hole", or "My Little Underground". The song lyrics are really about a variety of issues: girls, sex, drugs, you know, the usual stuff. What makes them so "effective" if you will, is the nonchalant way in which they are sung. Most of the songs are also rather short, with only one song on the album over 3:19 in length.

Bobby Gillespie - Drums, Snare
Douglas Hart - Bass
John Loder - Engineer
Jim Reid - Guitars, Vocals
William Reid - Guitars, Vocals

Because much of the album has a simmilar sound, I am not going to do a song by song review, but I will let you know a few of the notable songs. Here they are:

Notable Songs

Just Like Honey
This song is probably the most popular Jesus and Mary Chain song. It was most recently featured in the hit movie Lost In Translation, and for that reason gets even more attention. It is however, a defining song in the noise rock genre. There is a soft drum beat, and a wall of sound, with feedback drenched, "buzzsaw" guitars. The line leading up to the chorus ("eating up this scum is the hardest thing that I can do") is a bit dark, but the chorus is very nice, and probably the most poppy part of the album when the "just like honey" part comes in with a nice high background vocal attached.

Never Understand
There is a heavy and grinding guitar assault with muted vocals, and another sugary melody. This was one of the very first singles for the Jesus and Mary Chain. The guitar feedback and metal hitting metal is unrelenting is responsible for the background, while a steady drum pounds away. The melody has a great hook, and makes the backing track more pleasing to the ears, but as the song is coming to a close, the screeching background is accompanied by what sounds like a person being tortured. This type of sound was unheard of in the 1980s and that is what makes this song such a classic in the genre.

You Trip Me Up This is the defining feedback and buzz saw guitar-sound song in its earliest form. The guitars sound like a circular saw in a workshop. Fuzzy, noisy, and confrontational verses about having been used and abused are followed by the usual Jesus and Mary Chain chorus, a simple refrain, "you trip me up." In the later part of the song, the lyrics take on a different tone, and he goes from being the tripee (is that a word?) to being the tripper as he threatens "I'll trip you up." This is another single from the Jesus and Mary Chain, and a great song.

This is definately a one of a kind album. Nothing else sounds like this.
There are great hooks and sugary melodies.
Great use of echo and feedback.
Was a breakthrough album for the noiserock genre and influenced many bands.

Some songs can be too abrasive.
Many of the songs sound similar.
Not an album for any mood (you have to be in a Jesus and Mary Chain mood).

This was an album that had to grow on me. Upon listening for the first time I thought it had high points, but really didn't understand how the whole album fitted together. However, after repeated listens, I have come to the conclusion that this is a great album, not only for it influencial value, but also for it's content. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone, but people who enjoy noise rock or catchy melodies would likely find something on this album to like.

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"I don't expect/I just accept;I'm happy in my box, you just got to see the box upstairs"...

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Comments:Add a Comment 
May 19th 2005


Very nice review.

This is a great album, but I agree that you have to be in a "Jesus and Mary Chain mood" to enjoy and appreciate the album.

May 19th 2005


Agreed. This album is the bomb, good work as always Scott.

May 19th 2005


I swear this got posted ages ago...:weird:

Anyway, this is an incredible album. If you like alternative music, I'd say you need to hear it actually. Good stuff, and typically good review.

November 8th 2005


[quote=Med57]Anyway, this is an incredible album. If you like alternative music, I'd say you need to hear it actually. Good stuff, and typically good review.[/quote] Truth. I actually have only heard a few songs from this album, but they are amazing so I might pick this up sometime.

March 21st 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

Good job with the review Scott, sums it up.

I love this album, a perfect pot/chill out album. Never Understand is probably my favorite song.

June 1st 2006


The 80's were all about The Jesus and Mary Chain and Echo and the Bunnymen. Both bands have released several perfect albums.

June 23rd 2006


the 80's were more about pixies and sonic youth in my opinion, but alright.

The Jungler
June 23rd 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

The Pixies and SY came way to late in the 80's though. These guys are great as are Echo.

August 26th 2006


Album Rating: 4.5

Real cool album.

Two-Headed Boy
October 4th 2006


Album Rating: 4.5

This album owns my pants. Yes, even my Leperchan pajama pants.This Message Edited On 10.04.06

February 4th 2007


I really want to get into this band.

Electric City
February 4th 2007


Album Rating: 2.5

I've heard them compared to MBV, so I want to get into this. Can't find it anywhere though...

February 10th 2007


Album Rating: 4.5

Good review. I like this album. I find myself listening to the more Pop Orientated songs though, like Just Like Honey and Taste of Cindy.

I can't listen to it too much though. Like you said, its a mood album, and some of the songs are too abrasive

Electric City
February 17th 2007


Album Rating: 2.5

From one listen, I think the pop oriented songs are golden, especially Just Like Honey, but as you get to the end of the album, like the review says, it gets too abrasive.

The Jungler
March 9th 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

This is really good. It sounds like a fuzzier Echo and the Bunnymen. I can definitely see the MBV comparisons as well.

Sowing Seeds, Just Like Honey and My Little Underground are all sooo good.This Message Edited On 03.09.07

March 9th 2007


[quote="The Jungler"]It sounds like a fuzzier Echo and the Bunnymen[/quote]
I like that!
It's a very unique album. I kinda wish the tracks went on for longer, but that's my only gripe. 'Never Understand' rules. Nice review too

Apocalyptic Raids
June 28th 2007


Album Rating: 4.5

great album although that amount of fuzz for a whole album can get quite tiring at timesThis Message Edited On 08.26.07

Shadowed Reflection
November 9th 2007


Album Rating: 1.0

This album is horrible. Just white noise passed off as music. And I like a lot of noise rock (Big Black, Jesus Lizard, Sonic Youth) and I like MBV, who have a similar approach to music, but this album is just horrible echoe-y white noise and you can't hear anything else, except a massive snare drum that sounds like it was recorded in a canyon. One of the most overrated albums ever.

December 5th 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

just checked this out. i liked it. i might now re-try to get into to MBV

May 14th 2008


Album Rating: 4.5

Hey, this is the best "new but old" music ive ever discovered ( a-la the pixies).. i was absolutely blown away by this band.

I couldnt believe that this had all been and gone in the late 80's, before i had a clue of good music. I followed the Nirvana family tree and it led me to JAMC.

The best melodies ever written, two or three chords of superb structure, JAMC make this sort of pop perfection sound easy, plus they were ultra cool looking.


( the 21 Singles album is sightly better!!)

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