The Jesus and Mary Chain

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The Reid brothers

I don't mind about the state of my mind
But you know it's good for nothing
And I left you behind
It's a sick sick city

But it's never gonna make me insane
—"Blues from a Gun"

The Jesus and Mary Chain are the Trope Codifiers for the genre of Noise Pop.

The band was formed in 1983 by Scottish brothers Jim and William Reid, who wanted to put together their passion for noisy rock and experimental music (The Velvet Underground and Einstürzende Neubauten especially) with their love of classic pop such as Brian Wilson, Phil Spector and various Girl Groups. Jim assumed lead vocal duties, while William became the lead guitarist. They then happened upon an idea: why not use catchy pop melodies, play them through an ear-destroying amount of feedback and noise, and sing like you're about to fall asleep at any moment?

Jim and William have remained the only two constant members of the band since, with a large assortment of musicians floating through various lineups, mostly for live performances, as the brothers ended up handling everything (guitars, bass, drum machine programming, synthesizers). JAMC soon signed with Creation Records, releasing their debut album Psychocandy in 1985. This brought critical acclaim to the band and has retained historical importance as the first Noise Pop album.

The Jesus and Mary Chain became infamous for having short concerts (generally around 20 minutes) that ended with violence or riots, a reputation that stayed with them throughout their early years. The brothers felt they had done as much as they could with pure noise pop and made their next albums, Darklands and Automatic, New Sound Albums - the former was more melodic and acoustic while the latter was classic-rock influenced Alternative Rock. Both were well-received and spawned a few hits ("Happy When It Rains" and "Darklands" for the former, "Head On" and "Blues from a Gun" for the latter).

The band's first album of The Nineties, Honey's Dead, continued with the sound of Automatic but added more Industrial Metal influences. Its first single, "Reverence" attracted controversy for its lyrics (with choice couplets like I wanna die just like Jesus Christ/I wanna die on a bed of spikes and I wanna die just like JFK/I wanna die in the USA) and was banned from being played on BBC Radio 1 and Top of the Pops. It became a hit in the UK. Another New Sound Album followed, Stoned & Dethroned, which was very melodic and folky, but intra-band tensions were worsening. After another album, The Jesus and Mary Chain split up for good in 1999.

The band received more attention post-split through Revival by Commercialization, as Sofia Coppola used their song "Just Like Honey" at the end of Lost in Translation. The band finally reunited in 2007, playing for the first time in 8 years at the Coachella Festival. Notably, Scarlett Johansson joined them on stage to sing backing vocals on "Just Like Honey".


  • Psychocandy (1985)
  • Darklands (1987)
  • Barbed Wire Kisses (1988) - compilation of B-sides and non-album material
  • Automatic (1989)
  • Honey's Dead (1992)
  • The Sound of Speed (1993) - compilation of B-sides and non-album material
  • Stoned & Dethroned (1994)
  • Munki (1998)
  • The Power of Negative Thinking: B-sides and Rarities (2008) - box set.
The Jesus and Mary Chain provides examples of the following tropes: