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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Darklands

The Jesus And Mary Chain

1987

Darklands
Album Summary

Darklands is the second studio album by Scottish alternative rock band the Jesus and Mary Chain, released on 31 August 1987 by Blanco y Negro Records. The album is the band's first to use drum machines, replacing live drummer Bobby Gillespie, who had left to pursue a career as the frontman of Primal Scream. Lead vocals are performed by Jim Reid, with the exception of "Darklands", "Nine Million Rainy Days" and "On the Wall", which are sung by William Reid. Darklands reached number five on the UK Albums Chart, the band's highest-peaking album on the chart to date. The album was included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.Primal Scream later recorded a cover version of the album's title track as a B-side to their 1998 single "If They Move, Kill 'Em".

Wikipedia

Rating

3.24

Votes

10337
Genres
Rock
Indie
Shoegaze

Reviews

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Mon Sep 20 2021
4

Music writers fall over themselves to overpraise Joy Division and New Order, yet rarely do I find anything to reassess the Jesus and Mary Chain (although Sofia Coppola using "Just Like Honey" came close to igniting a Jesus and Mary Chain Renaissance). This album fulfills all the promises those overrated bands suggested. It sounds like the first time you ever fell in love. Of course, I'm a sucker for harmonies and power pop so I'm probably just as guilty of hyperbole as those New Order backers. This is one of those albums that can vary between a 4 and a 5 rating for me. The title track alone is a piece of pure bubble gum pop perfection.

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Tue Oct 05 2021
5

19 year old me's top 10 album to walk the dog and smoke a cigarette to

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Thu Mar 31 2022
1

Like… watching… paint… dry. Which may also be what the lads are doing on the cover. I’m trying real hard (and judging by the results, a lot harder than The Jesus And Mary Chain seemingly worked on 'Darklands') to find the right adjective here. ‘Dispassionate’ doesn’t work, for that implies strong emotion. ‘Disinterested,’ ‘impassive’ seems to work better. I read a book years ago written by Kathleen Norris in which she identified a condition called ‘acedia’ meaning a kind of spiritual or emotional sloth, apathy. I believe the Reid brothers, Jim and William, might be suffering from acedia. I mean, for God’s sake, they barely utilize a drum machine for much else than one droning beat, the only instrumental break was the very last song with a guitar solo that was literally four notes, and they sing with little or no fervor. Pat Boone comes across as Roger Daltrey in comparison. And if the music leads you to draw a bath of warm water, then the lyrics make you grab the razor blade and start your descent: ‘As sure as life means nothing and all things end in nothing… I want to go.’ ‘I have nothing left to give for you to take… there is nothing left of me.’ Here’s a particularly cheery one: ‘Everyone’s falling on me and I’m as dead as a Christmas tree.’ I take it he’s referring not to the beautifully adorned and twinkling lit ones in December, but the really super dead ones that are drug out to the curb with the rest of the trash in January. The best song on the entire LP was the last one, both because there was the tiniest glimmer of positivity in the lyrics, but mostly because it was the shortest one of the bunch. And boys, your LP must have infected me with a bit of your acedia, because I’m not even feeling any of the shock you desired when you named your band, The Jesus And Mary Chain.

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Tue Feb 02 2021
4

The Jesus and Mary Chain feel like a real musical blind spot for me. I did a pretty deep dive into various Scottish indie bands in my late teens/early twenties (The Vaselines, Teenage Fanclub, Eugenius, Arab Strap, The Delgados, Belle and Sebastian, Mogwai, Prolapse, Magoo, Telstar Ponies etc. etc.) Somehow J.A.M.C. got missed off my list and now I feel like a fool. Loved this album and given it was released in 1987 I can see how they influenced a load of my favourite bands. Really liked it. Will now be digging into their back catalogue properly (and probably pretending I always liked them).

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Mon Sep 12 2022
4

With my last review, I found myself tackling dream pop via the Cocteau Twins' Heaven or Las Vegas. Now, who should turn up at the front door but the cousin of dream pop, noise pop? The distinction between the two isn't exact: both tend towards bubblegum melodies and walls of sound, with dream pop emphasising texture more and noise pop focusing on noise (funny that). So, more feedback and distortion, but both could open an Adam Curtis documentary on how the Biafran War directly led to TikTok. I expressed a mild guardedness for dream pop, as its style could slip into gimmickry with diminishing returns over the course of an album. Noise pop makes me similarly wary for similar reasons. It's nice to have a clear style, but a style is not a philosophy, and overexposure can reveal a scantiness to the substance. That said, I tend to prefer noise pop to dream pop: dreams are meaningless, noise is not. Darklands is the Jesus and Mary Chain's second album, and their second most acclaimed. Their debut album, Psychocandy, is now seen as one of the definitive albums of the eighties, especially in British indie circles. However, the two brothers behind the band, William and Jim Reid, had grown resentful of the rabid image the press had painted of them (the tabloids called them the new Sex Pistols due to the violence that tended to erupt at their gigs). Along with this, their drummer Bobby Gillespie left to pursue his own band Primal Scream, with the Jesus and Mary Chain employing a drum machine for this album. So, Darklands features much less of the guitar squeal of Psychocandy and, let me commit heresy, better-structured songs. I prefer the best songs on Darklands to the best songs on Psychocandy. You could argue that Psychocandy is meant to be treated as an album rather than a collection of songs, but I will point to my earlier criticism that an album of one noise can swiftly become wearying. Also, Darklands is less overtly record-collection rock, meaning you don't spend the entire album just ticking off references to the Velvet Underground (although you do spend some of it on that unimpressive activity). But anyway, whilst there are fantastic songs on Darklands, I wonder if it's momentous enough. Darklands is a fine album, but it just misses by a pubewidth in making me truly giddy. I don't feel my heart bursting when I listen to it, and that's surely the effect one desires. Maybe further listens will induce that full sense of bliss, but I have other things to do as well. Such as your mum.

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Wed Nov 10 2021
5

Part of me wonders why people are so quick to hype up Psychocandy as a total masterpiece when this follow-up is actually stronger in some areas. Less abrasive and groundbreaking, sure, but the production and song writing, especially on highlights like the title track, "April Skies," and "Only Happy When It Rains," are leagues above most of its predecessor.

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Wed Jun 08 2022
5

A wonderful album. I love the sensitive nature running through the songs, masked by the macho rock 'n' roll posturing. It's the songs that win through, all delicate and in danger of breaking into tears at any moment. The black leather hides the emotions well.

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Fri Jun 04 2021
4

Darklands is packed full of big pop guitar hooks, and some familiar sounding melodies from Psycho Candy. The band relies less on the wall of sound from the previous album, but much more on what sounds like a drum machine here, sometimes to great effect. It's a very enjoyable listen, and interesting to hear where the Jesus and Mary Chain went after the reverb heavy Psycho Candy. Fav Tracks: Happy When It Rains, About You, April Skies Rating: 3.5/5

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Sat Nov 13 2021
4

Really love this kind of sound. Great guitar work. Almost a mix between jangly and droning that somehow works? My only issue is that it’s a bit samey, but it’s a minor issue. Just barely holding it back from a 5.

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Tue Feb 28 2023
3

[Editorial note: Having tested positive for covid this morning, it may not have been the best idea to try and objectively review an album today] I don’t know man, i’d rather listen to “Vehicle” by The Clean. Maybe it’s the covid talking but these records feel similar, with the Clean being more upbeat and less “everything’s a bit shit, innit?” (Is that a Peep Show or The Thick of It reference? I can’t remember. Either way, it’s a show that Jesse Armstrong wrote on and I’m pretty sure it’s not Succession. This feels like an Ollie line from The Thick of It, like maybe he’s mocking Robin or Terri or something. That’s what I’ll do with some of my covid down time, rewatch the The Thick of It and then maybe Peep Show…but Peep Show’s like 9 seasons, I don’t think I can plow through that entire show while fighting off covid. I mean that would take a while and I’m hoping this is done within a few days.) Holy fuck, does my head hurt.

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Tue Feb 02 2021
5

Awesome album, I can't believe I waited so long before listening to it

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Thu Jan 28 2021
5

Do you remember the JAMC? Yes, yes I do.

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Thu Apr 08 2021
5

Not as good as their first album but I'm a big fan of this too

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Tue Dec 21 2021
5

This is not how I remember JAMC. The Beach Boys influences are easy to hear, and they've updated them incredibly.

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Fri Dec 31 2021
5

Love it. Boundary pushing indie pop; jaded romance.

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Thu Mar 03 2022
5

I pretty much like everything this band has done, I bounce between this and Honey's Dead as my favorite.

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Fri May 06 2022
5

In which the JAMC showed that under the pyros they had a sturdy songwriting chassis and (squabbling aside) were in it for the long haul. Flawless collection different from the amazing debut.

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Sat May 07 2022
5

really good, definitely easier to listen to than Psychocandy but I really love both I really enjoyed the fuckin shit out of this album - 10/10

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Thu Jul 28 2022
5

Like SHARPE leading his men in to battle.

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Fri May 05 2023
5

This is one of those bands that sounds really cool and interesting on their own, but starts to become really significant when you think about all the other bands that employed a similar sound after them. You can hear so many other songs on this album, and yet I can't think of many examples of hearing similar sounds that came before this album. It's a truly iconic album that doesn't often get the respect that it deserves 5/5

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Mon May 10 2021
4

Shoegaze before it had a name. Liked the harder albums more, a la The Hardest Walk, but a good album I never really listened to.

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Wed Sep 29 2021
4

Another band I know are supposed to be Very Important but that I have never taken much time to understand. I know Psychocandy is supposed to be great. Straight up, with Darklands, I like the song but detest the intensely 80's drum sound*. I like the Scots brogue of the vocals. Two tracks in, it feels like a lot of shoegaze. Inoffensive but not mind-blowing. Happy When it Rains is a step up. A genuinely good pop indie song with a grumpy streak. Then it turns out I know and like Down on Me from indie discos! And it's a tune! This alone has made today's album worth my time. Nine Million Rainy Days is also great - the middle of this album is very strong - like Atmosphere by Joy Division filtered through Heavenly Records. April Skies isn't quite as good, but this is still shaping up well. It continues in a fairly 'album track' vein to the end from here, until the very sweet closer, About You, which is a leap in quality again. A hard one to rate. The best tracks are 4s and 5s, the filler is solid 2s. Ideally I'd rate it 3.5, I suppose I'll see how I feel and rate it either 3 or 4! * Just found out this is because they replaced Bobby Gillespie (of Primal Scream) who was their drummer with a drum machine. I believe even Steps and Ed Sheeran benefit from lacking Bobby Gillespie, so I'm not marking them down for this!

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Mon Nov 08 2021
4

Not the impact of Psychocandy but still a very good album, nice to see it on the list!

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Wed Dec 08 2021
4

4.3 - Perhaps it's a testament to the gripping power of "Psychocandy" but my first instinct when listening to this album for the first time is to understand it within the context of "Psychocandy." In actuality, to me this album is way more pleasant and approachable. Songs like "April Skies" are just pop delights. "Fall" has just hints of that fuzzy guitar sound that they'd blow out so completely on "Psychocandy." There's an expansive, shimmery and atmospheric sound - wish I had listened to this album before attempting to understand "Psychocandy." Though my path here feels somewhat circuitous, I'm really happy I finally got to this great record.

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Sun Feb 13 2022
4

Miserable Glaswegians sing about depressing things in a public toilet. It's an album smothered in rain clouds but occasionally poppy melodies break through like a bit of warm sunshine. Best Tracks: Darklands; Happy When It Rains; April Skies

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Thu Feb 17 2022
4

Not as revolutionary as their predecessor and noise pop masterpiece Psychocandy, but it's just as solid. Plenty of amazing tracks, including the bonus "Some Candy Talking" that I pretend is included, sounds inspired by Velvet Underground. Has a very 60s jangly psychedelic pop sound, with matching dreamy vocals and the familiar 80s alt rock / New Wave production. A lot clearer than Psychocandy, but many tracks are definitely fuzzy, doing what they do best. More accessible for sure, but I'd still recommend Psychocandy to people who want to see what makes them so mind blowing. Highlights in every track, with some cranking the speed ("Down on Me") while others contributing to a dark chasm of an atmosphere ("The Wall", "Nine Million Rainy Days").

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Sat Jun 18 2022
4

6/16/2022 - ALBUM #140 Today's Album: "Darklands" by The Jesus and Mary Chain - These album reviews are starting to take a bit longer due to my busy schedule (which will hopefully eventually clear up), but the worst part about it is when I get these really fantastically layered albums that take me so much time to properly unpack. The instrumentals, lyricism, storytelling, songwriting, and even mood and sonic landscape of this album are all so layered and the instruments in particular are incredibly impressive when considering they're using a drum machine throughout the entire album. The album really gains a lot of it's personality through it's blaring distorted guitars that create a really rich sounding background to some really great moody vocal performances. The lyricism, although a bit hard to decipher on first listen, actually tells a really great story of feeling a lot of anger and injustice in the world and projecting it onto a relationship and all of the heartache that comes with it. By the ending track, About You, they sing about feeling better about the world and feeling something warm in the rain, warm in everything, and finally warm about "you". The lyrics can be a little heavy handed and hard to understand at some times, but I also think it's totally possible to just tune them out and enjoy this project for the great soundscapes it creates. This album overall just strikes a really awesome balance sonically by having a really structured automatic beat, that honestly sounds convincing for a drum machine, and then having a lot of effects on the guitars, melodic basslines, and somewhat strained vocals to incorporate a really moody atmosphere. They then incorporate a lot of conventional song structure to make this sound really appealing. A lot of the stuff in this album has become very worn out in the alt-rock genre, but for 1987, this still holds up today and sounds so incredibly fresh. The mix is also pretty solid, putting the vocals in the background of these blasting guitar chords. The songs April Skies and On The Wall stand out to me as all of these ingredients combining to create something that ascends the rest of the tracks. I also think the sequencing of this album is really solid, with the few songs that weren't as good being sprinkled throughout the track list. Overall, this album deserves a listen with a really good pair of headphones because most of the greatness in this record comes from the soundscapes they create, but at the same time...I really love that shit. Give this one a listen if you like an album with a moody alt-rock tone to it or like an album that gives you some great sonic moments and experiences. Highlights: Darklands, Happy When It Rains, Down On Me, April Skies, Fall, Cherry Came Too, On The Wall Score: 8/10 Pretty fantastic and unique alt-rock experience

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Thu Sep 08 2022
4

Interesting album with links to to the shoegaze/dreampop scene. The bass is strong and the drums somewhat refrained. The singing does not go into big crescendos or spectacle, but rather forms an atmosphere. At points reminds me of My Bloody Valentine's "Isn't Anything" album, but with a lighter wall of sound, allowing more room for the melody. I have been curious about this band, but never had a chance to listen to one of their albums in full. I think this was a great introduction and at 36 minutes, is not a demanding listen. Genre: Rock, shoegaze, dreampop. Year: 1987 Track highlights: Darklands, On the Wall, Nine Million Rainy Days

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Fri Sep 23 2022
4

Pretty solid guitar rock/indie. Their choice of sound and instrumentation instills a certain sense of timelessness in the music - really only the use of an 80's drum machine here is what dates them.

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Wed Oct 05 2022
4

The JAMC pop album - I think universally acknowledged as not as good as Psychocandy but still pretty great. There's some foreshadowing of JAMC-do-Billy Idol-'Head On' here. And more stuff that sounds a bit like Just Like Honey, rather than a drill boring directly into your soul. These are not necessarily bad things, there is a place for both, and how do you top the debut?

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Mon Oct 17 2022
4

One has always enjoyed the melodious sweetness herein, which contrast with dense, sonically fuzzy backdrop not nearly as dark and certainly not as heavy or screechy as Psychocandy. The sincere non-morbid yearning is well articulated in the singalong chorus (“Du-du-DUHdu-du”) of the opener. The tension between the tunefulness and drone-y walls balance provides the energy. There's a likable simplicity here, too, as if basic, relatively innocent ‘50s songs were updated with a more metallic sonic palette and near-industrial-strength production effects, pushing coolness from white t-shirts, leather jackets and cigarettes to the post-new wavey angst of torn, all-black clothes, thick boots and harder drugs. In the end, a highly evocative and richly satisfying pop record thanks to sweet, solid hooks within pleasantly dark shadings.

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Mon Nov 29 2021
3

My first thought, when listening to this album, was that it was a pretty decent, run-of-the-mill rock album for the mid '90s. That I looked and saw that it was released in '87. Turns out, it's actually a pretty decent rock album that was ahead of it's time. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Solid 3 stars.

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Wed Sep 23 2020
2

A good shoegaze album is still a snoregaze to listen to 😴

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Thu Jan 21 2021
2

Not good, lyrics are not really sensible or well thought-out and the music feels very repetitive very fast.

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Thu May 13 2021
1

Completely forgettable. The only redeemable quality for this album is that it is not so offensive that I would turn it off immediately.

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Mon Mar 01 2021
5

Love this album. Such good indie music.

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Mon May 17 2021
5

Enjoyed, surprising 1988. Shoegaze.

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Fri Dec 24 2021
5

Great noise pop, love this genre, Psychocandy is better though and by a solid margin.

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Thu Mar 03 2022
5

Love the JAMC! Distinctive sound, good lyrics, never gets old.

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Tue Aug 16 2022
5

I like this album. I already knew just like honey and love it. their sound is so cool and comforting and familiar. I like the noise and the feedback, it feels like main character music, i can see it in so many films. i like darklands, april skies. it just feels like you should be driving down pch at sunset with the windows down or at a party with your friends having drinks. I will definitely relisten and revisit. i want to give this a 5 so i will. :)

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Sat Aug 27 2022
5

Better than Psychocandy and Automatic

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Tue Oct 18 2022
5

'Deep one perfect morning' seems a citation to Jesus wants me for a sunbeam, but they were published the same year, so who is citing who? Being Scottish, they certainly have a passion for rain and skies. The entire album is so good.

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Fri Oct 21 2022
5

I might need to add this to my list of favorite bands. I have no idea why I never came across them before.

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Wed Dec 28 2022
5

This album is really very very good! All the songs are excellent!

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Wed Dec 28 2022
5

It's difficult to rate records or bands that you already like. That being said this is a great record.

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Thu Feb 23 2023
5

Mesmerising sound, a bit monotonous but still a great album.

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Sat Mar 04 2023
5

About You is *such* a good ending to this album. This is, IMHO, *way* better than Psychocandy. This one has aged like fine wine... It doesn't reveal all of its character on first listen, it's a very layered album that I don't feel like I've plumbed the depth of more than 20 years and dozens of listens after hearing it for the first time. So much goodness packed into 36 minutes! One of my top 5 albums of the 80s, easy 5/5.

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Thu Mar 09 2023
5

Mellow, jangly guitars and nice vocals

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Thu Mar 09 2023
5

Better than I expected, but not really my kind of thing. Happy when it rains is a cracking tune, and they get a wee extra 🌟 just for being Scottish! 4 🌟 => 5 🌟

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Tue Mar 28 2023
5

listened to this on a 4 hour bus ride. perfect road trip album. makes me wanna stare out of a window and ponder shit.

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Tue Apr 11 2023
5

Really loved this. I don’t think I’ve ever listened to the band. This kind of pointers in new directions is what I am here for. First album I know I will return to a lot. Clearly inspired other stuff I like.

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Mon May 01 2023
5

Beautiful melancholic shoe gaze. It's raw & emotional. This band reminds me that guitar is my favorite instrument & they're masters of their work. I adore JAMC, but I've never seen them live despite having the chance last year...I have a regretful feeling I'm never going to see them. Excellent album & band.

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Fri Jun 02 2023
5

A great example of simple, no frills, amazing and influential stuff. So good.

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Fri Aug 25 2023
5

My kind of alt rock. And it spurred me to listen to a bunch of other music from the era. Pure nostalgia bliss.

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Fri Sep 08 2023
5

Great record! I love the mood it gets me in

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Fri Sep 15 2023
5

Just the perfect noise for my ears.

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Wed Sep 27 2023
5

Good stuff, love the guitar tone. April skies is a classic.

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Wed Oct 25 2023
5

this album is a nice foray into well-worn melancholy, like pulling out your box of old sweaters from the attic on that first crisp autumn morning. It's brooding and dismal at times, but earnest enough that I think it avoids overtly angsty melodrama. I'm a big fan of The Jesus and Mary Chain but hadn't listened to this album all the way through before, and I really enjoyed it! Favorite songs: Darklands, April Skies, Fall

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Wed Nov 22 2023
5

Melodic romanticism with post-punk vibes? Now this is 80s music I can get behind!

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Mon Dec 25 2023
5

Great album, not quite as good as Psychocandy but still great. No sure why they iliked to bang on about 'rain' so much.

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Fri Dec 29 2023
5

Combine dark and light to create moody bliss - a dead simple but totally effective formula. A brooding reverby atmosphere pierced by bright melodic lead guitars playing simple major key melodies that soar over gloomy the distortion. Hit a big minor chord to kick off the bridge and release the tension back into a major by the end. The vocals seemingly straining their limits even in a pretty modest range make it somehow vulnerable and poignant. Contains one of only like 4 songs that get away with a 'do do do' chorus. A punk approach to loud stripped back musicianship combined with a pop melodic sensibility, an ear for richly layered guitar texture, unhurried songwriting and the patience to dwell in an atmospheric slow (maybe a bit too one-speed) zone make for a gem of gothy proto-shoegaze near perfection

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Sun Jan 21 2024
5

Muito bom!!! Gostei bem mais do que esperava. Delicioso de ouvir!

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Thu Feb 29 2024
5

There are no fillers here, just 10 shimmery, beautiful, danceable shoegaze pop songs. Perfection.

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Fri Jan 29 2021
4

Reminds me a little of Joy Division but more subdued. Good stuff.

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Mon Jul 19 2021
4

May not be their best album but may be their most enjoyable.

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Tue Feb 16 2021
4

Very chill and new wave/ early grunge sound. Provided for and excellent driving album.

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Thu Jun 24 2021
4

Is it goth, or is it just goth-aligned post-punk? Either way, I'm a fan of this gloom! Fave track - "Nine Million Rainy Days" for most depressive lyrics...

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Tue Jun 01 2021
4

As Spencer said as we were listening to this in the car- it’s the soundtrack to a coming of age film set in the 80s. But still very enjoyable no the less

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Tue Mar 30 2021
4

Haven’t listened to this TJAMC album and really enjoyed it

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Mon Jul 19 2021
4

I'd not listened to this album before but I really enjoyed it. Much less drenched in reverb than Psychocandy allowing the melodies to shine. You can almost hear the beach boys in some of the tracks.

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Tue May 11 2021
4

pleasant to listen to but nothing that exciting. 7

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