Speaking to NE Volume in March, Jim Reid declared that the perfect outcome for new Mary Chain release ‘Damage and joy’ would be that it “really affected Mary Chain fans and music fans in the right way”. Sounding like a formality, in a career surrounded by in-fighting and abuse, the one thing Mary Chain fans have always been able to rely on is life affecting music.
Equal parts Beach Boys, Ramones, white noise and Phil Spector, ‘Damage..’ proved yet again that very little in music is as moving as the sound of Jim Reid exposing his soul over William’s feedback-heavy, menacing, post-punk, guitar sounds. Dark, dirty and sexual, the East Kilbride bothers proved that they were still furious outsiders fascinated by both the destructive and redemptive elements of rock n’ roll.
Almost six months since the album’s release, and having toured non-stop since March, it’s pleasant to see that the brothers haven’t imploded or changed their live traditions. Dressed all in black, performing on a blackened stage, Jim standing alone clutching his mic stand as both a weapon and an emotional crutch, William off to the right, head down, surrounded by pedals and amps; combining to produce a riotous soundtrack to debauchery, honey, deviance, machoism, death, and destruction.
Focal point, as always, is the sound coming from William’s guitar, his hooligan-art style taking Pete Townsend’s aggressive, anti-establishment, form and dragging it into modern times. It’s a style which provides the band with both a drone and a swagger, and on top of which Jim places his, vastly underrated, live vocals, particularly stinging on ‘Always sad’ with it’s refrain ‘I think I’m always gonna be sad’. Known for their damnation, debauchery and aggression, they’re often never credited for their melancholy.
No one is as affecting as the Mary Chain at their best.