the jesus and mary chain
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The Bad Boys Are Back In Town
Stephen Dalton / The Times

The Jesus and Mary Chain
Garage, Glasgow

Back in 1984, TJAMC seemed liked apocalyptic young assassins come to finish off the hatchet job... which the Sex Pistols never completed. Their weapons were howling feedback, fearsoome arrogance and an arsenal of 2 min paeans to drugs, sex and teenage suicide. These black clad Glaswegians were like Warholian pop art in human form, but their ground breaking sound was soon overshadowed by a reputation for... 20 min sets and inciting riots.

Ultimately though (they) were far too infatuated with rock history to trash it. For all their nihilistic posturing, the bros came to praise pop music, not bury it. Instead of subverting the music biz they settled for a cosy niche on its cultish fringes.

But the band's new album is their rawest for more than a decade - and last Thursday's Glasgow homecoming exploited this... to the full. William grinned psychotically during his two vocal cameos, the sleazy rumble of Cracking Up and the profane, self-lacerating 'I hate..'.

But as usual it was frontman Jim's catatonic detachment and passive-aggressive lack of expression which commanded the most attention. His carapace of cool was only broken when he counterbalanced his brother's cynical sneers with a heartfelt serenade entitled 'I love...'.

At their best, TJAMC combine Springsteen-esque anthemic simplicity with the dirty thrill of classic gutter rock. In Glasgow, 'Happy when it rains' and 'Dream Lover' both proved to be prime examples of this demonic bubble gum formula, despite being written a decade apart. At their worst, (they) still occasionally lapse in to rock'n'roll cliche and mistake muddy confusion for heroic self destruction. Such was the case with climactic demolition of Reverence, which was played at half speed and soon degenerated into a formless racket. For a band whose sonic vandalism once represented passionate defiance, this anti-climax smacked of lazy self-parody.

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