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The Jesus And Mary Chain – Honey's Dead

June 20, 2006

While Psychocandy saw The Jesus and Mary Chain gaining the most popularity, Honey’s Dead is clearly a superior album. A little over halfway into the bands career, the Reid duo still hasn’t grown out of the film of feedback and guitar fuzz that covered Psychocandy, but they do refine this style, and in the process find ways to make an actual full fledged transforming album as opposed to glorious albums of treats like Psychocandy and Darklands (as good as they were). What is really interesting about this album is the undeniable feeling that the tracks eminate, and that is a feeling of sunny apathy that ended up being a staple of the 90s. So it’s no suprise that Honey’s Dead came out in the middle of this rush of grunge and britpop. It just sounds like it did, but even if this is an album that very much follows in the footsteps of other albums that were more popular and influential, it still has a level of sophistication that few other albums at the time could achieve. The laser precision rhythm mixed with still outwardly brilliant pop hooks make this The Chains best album, and one of the better albums from it’s time.

One undeniable quality of this album is the beat and how precise it is. Sometimes the effect is almost hypnotic, because the tamborines and quick drumbeats subdivide the song so much that the listener doesn’t have to do any subconcious work to keep up. This is exactly the case with the opening track, Reverence, which plugs along with a shockingly exact beat, and also finds a great way to incorporate the bands signature guitar feedback to make a sound that isn’t sure if it wants to be lazy or not. In any case, the sneering Reid’s lyrics “I wanna die just like Jesus Christ/I wanna die on a bed of spikes” is unbelievably likeable even considering the subject matter. Which is great even after the song spins into a trance like dance solo later on. This is also the case with a later track called Sugar Ray. From the very start, the guitar effects follow the beat really well, and the song opens up into a flat out club beat that is hard to not dance or at least tap your toes or nod your head to.

There are a few tracks that especially open up the rest of the album in their climbing easygoing nature, such as Catchfire and Teenage Lust, but beyond that, there are still tons of tracks that exemplify the bands earliest strength for flat out hooks, but here, they are louder, faster, and more clear, if not a little bit more confident in some areas too. These such songs are Tumbledown, I Can’t Get Enough, and the distinguishably brilliantly Far Gone And Out, which perfectly demonstrates how lyrics can really make or break a song. Needless to say, they completely make this song, and the two parts of instrumental energy and vocal prowess are fantastic.

There are some slower songs like Good For My Soul, which almost shadows both Darklands and Stoned And Dethroned at the same time. And the true conclusive song is Sundown, which would totally wrap up the album if it came last, but The Chain knowns better than to be that truly predictable. But the real, complete winner on this album is the one of a kind track that is placed near the beginning, and no other song on the album really comes close to what it does, or even attempts as much as it does. That song is Almost Gold, a flat out love song, dotted with bell like effects, guitar noise imitating violins (I suppose they could actually be violins though, but it doesn’t seem like it), a yet again killer beat, and a touching guitar strum that pulls everything together. This is the true gem on this album, and it really makes you wonder why the title of the album would have the word “dead” in it.

Yes, albums like Psychocandy and Darklands might be more rewarding after a longer period of time, but this is hands down the most tightly constructed and accessible album the chain has made, and there is no denying the power that each individual song has as opposed to the breakneck pace of the bands previous albums to just throw out tunes that the listener should take in as a whole. No matter how the band operated, they always produced gold, and this is the most smooth and tasty work the band ever did.

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