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Album Review

Feeling no doubt burdened by the various claims of being the new Sex Pistols, and likely fed up with accusations that the walls of feedback were their own trick, the Reid brothers underwent a bit of a rethink with Darklands. The end result must have fallen squarely between two camps — hardly eligible for sunny commercial airplay, not quite as flailing as the earliest efforts — but, from a distance, this is an appealing, enjoyable record. Songs were often longer while the album itself was shorter than Psychocandy, walls of sound were often stripped away in favor of calmer classic rock twang and groove, while William Reid took the lead vocal at points, showing he had a slightly sweeter, wistful tone in comparison to his brother. However, the changes on Darklands can be overstated — the basic formula at the heart of the band (inspired plagiarism of melodies and lyrics alike, plenty of reverb, etc.) stayed pretty much the same, even if the mixes were cleaned up — compare "Down on Me" to any Psychocandy cut for a good example of the difference. The use of drum machines in place of Bobby Gillespie's rumble tended to enforce the newer focus, but at the album's best, such a seeming dichotomy didn't cause too much worry. "April Skies" made for a great single, while the soaring-in-spite-of-itself "Happy When It Rains" was another winner, one that Garbage more or less made its own some years later for its own similarly titled hit. William's singing turns made for other highlights as well, notably "Nine Million Rainy Days," the overt misery of the title suiting the dark crawl of the song, and the lengthy lament "On the Wall." Darklands is no Psychocandy in the end — nothing the band released later ever was — but it's still a good listen.


Formed: 1984 in Glasgow, Scotland

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Like the Velvet Underground, their most obvious influence, the chart success of the Jesus and Mary Chain was virtually nonexistent, but their artistic impact was incalculable; quite simply, the Scottish group made the world safe for white noise, orchestrating a sound dense in squalling feedback which served as an inspiration to everyone from My Bloody Valentine to Dinosaur Jr. Though the supporting players drifted in and out of focus, the heart of the Mary Chain remained vocalists and guitarists...
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