The Jesus and Mary Chain channel synth-punk in their latest album, wrestling with past and present

Nearly 40 years after their excellent and hugely influential Psychocandy, The Jesus and Mary Chain are putting their love of grimy synth-punk pioneers Suicide front and centre (not that they’ve ever really hidden it) on Glasgow Eyes. You can hear it in moody, dreamlike “Mediterranean X Film,” with its whispered chant, and in the cinematic paranoia of “Silver Strings.” “Venal Joy” is almost camp with space-age veneer. It’s also there in the angular, sideways “Discotheque” and its stilted rhythm. But brothers Jim and William Reid are also wrestling with their own past, and doing it in the cantankerous way the Scottish siblings have become notorious for.

”American Born” combines a pretty, twinkly melody with sleazy guitar and grotesque vocals—with lyrics that, you have to wonder, might be a mockery of older sibling William, who lives in the US: “I drink with Americans/ I live with Americans/ I look like Americans/ I talk like Americans.” In any case, it’s certainly not complimentary. “When we first went to America it was both wonderfully exciting and hugely disappointing all at once … all little guys with backwards baseball caps and shorts on and all that, ‘Whooo! Hey man!’. It was like, ‘Fuck, this is not the kind of America that we that we were into,’” Jim has said. The States, of course, were also where the band broke up in 1998, when William walked off stage during a Los Angeles show—which inspired the muscular new song “jamcod,” with its brittle metallic beats and laser-blast synth. “The monkey’s organ grinder isn’t grinding anymore … Best notify the other brother, there’s no place to go,” Jim sings, before comparing the whole thing to an overdose: “A recently deceased/ A House of Blues blue/ A cocaine and disabled/ J-A-M-C-O-D.”

Jim also reflects on his own past with substances (“I fill myself with chemicals/ To hide the dark shit I don’t show”) on “Chemical Animal,” a classic JAMC drone with a shimmering sequencer. “Pure Poor” delves into druggy sludge and atonal guitar. But the band is having fun, too. “The Eagles and the Beatles” kicks in with a riff that sounds like “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” run through a sarcasm filter, then goes on to namecheck the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, the Beach Boys, the Sex Pistols and the Faces, not that it sounds like any of them. “Hey Lou Reid” is a super groovy lark that, yes, has a certain Velvets feel, at least until it drifts into a totally different song, spacing out like Spiritualized. “Second of June,” meanwhile, is pretty classic JAMC—and knows it: “Face the sky/ Take cover before you die/ Jesus and Mary Chain.”