The Jesus and Mary Chain haven’t put out an album in 19 years, and Damage and Joy feels like the overdue love-child of a relationship that has devolved into a spiral of undying indulgence and self-loathing.
These songs acknowledge the ridiculousness of youthful abandon, while somehow capturing the spirit of those nights before drugs and angst gave way to the middle-aged disillusionment with which they were written. The arrangements carry that fuzzy, experimentally stoned indie vibe that made so many people fall in love with Wilco right around Yankee Hotel Foxtrot — but feel evolved without ever having gotten sober:
Complete is their picture of the undulating currents of rebellion, rage, and fleeting beauty of life. And it’s hard to paraphrase the spirit of this album in a way that fairly addresses the profane enlightenment captured in its songs. At once fatalistic and romantic, washed out and uninspired, Damage and Joy finds simplistic truth within the unending confusion of the human condition — and it does so with a rugged grace that takes depression as a corollary, heartache as a currency, or hedonism as necessity.
Indie rock has become a strange and amorphous sonic terrain lately — a label to be thrown with impunity at indefinable projects of questionable influence. It has long been an ethereal form that hangs off the ledges of commercial music and moans about its otherness.
The Jesus and Mary Chain have never needed to haunt the other side of things they just do what they do. And what they do reaches closer to the core of what truly defines indie music than most anything else that has tried to achieve such honesty and ambience. This gives them an undying relevance that has aged with grace — if it can be argued they have truly aged at all:
Damage and Joy isn’t just an album for the tireless nailbiters who have been with The Jesus and Mary Chain since the beginning. Rather, it is an invitation for those that missed the boat to go back — so they can dig up what they left sunken on the shores of musical predecession.
It may have taken them nearly two decades to put this album out, but there is no question that they have done so for a reason. This is an album whose time has come. And quite possibly, after 30 years of making music, The Jesus and Mary Chain might have finally arrived.