Though its lacks the heavenly sonic squall of PSYCHOCANDY, the Jesus & Mary Chain's second album, DARKLANDS, finds the notorious Scottish post-punk band rivaling that impressive debut with a considerably more melodic set of songs. While the title is a bit misleading--DARKLANDS is surprisingly sunny at times--even some of the disc's brighter tunes have goth-friendly themes, namely the chiming, Velvet Underground-influenced opening title track and the amped-up anthem "Happy When It Rains" (a mid-tempo precursor to the following record's raucous "Head On").
On this outing, percussionist Bobby Gillespie (who went on to form Primal Scream) is replaced by a well-behaved drum machine, but this seemingly detrimental change works remarkably well, allowing the focus to zoom in tighter on the icy vocals and toned-down but still reverb-drenched guitar lines of brothers Jim and William Reid. Other highlights of the album include the propulsive "Down on Me" and the brokenhearted "April Skies," one of the Reids' most accessible songs. DARKLANDS is essential for Mary Chain fans, and crucial to any extensive collection of late-1980s rock.
Rolling Stone (p.74) - "On DARKLANDS, the Reid brothers stripped away the feedback and came blinking into the light with acoustic guitars and uplifting sentiments..."
Q (p.122) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "As an album, DARKLANDS lays bare the beauty of William's melodic vision."
Q (1/95, p.273) - 4 Stars - Excellent - "...Not since The Cure's PORNOGRAPHY and Joy Division's CLOSER had depression sounded so attractive to so many....A touchstone '80s work..."
Alternative Press (p.200) - "[DARKLANDS] combined woozy girl-group echoes and booming, rainy-day reverb to create a perfect proto-shoegazing album."
Record Collector (magazine) (p.87) - 5 stars out of 5 -- "[T]hey purposefully refined the dynamics to craft genuine pop hits..."
Uncut (magazine) (p.103) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "The stoned acoustics and Lee Hazlewood languor of DARKLANDS were a brave step back from the feedback brink..."
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