The Jesus and Mary Chain

Honey's Dead

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Again working with Alan Moulder but now also using a live drummer on most tracks -- namely Monti from Curve, one of the Mary Chain's many descendants -- the Reids came back strong with Honey's Dead, on balance a more consistent and satisfying record than Automatic. There's a sense of greater creativity with the arrangements, while the balance between blasting static rampage and precise, almost clinical delivery is the finest yet, making the album as a whole the best straight-through listen since Psychocandy. Monti's drumming finally replaces Bobby Gillespie's properly; he's a much more talented musician than the Primal Scream overlord, using the warped funk hits familiar from Curve's work to the Mary Chain's advantage. Even the drum machine-driven cuts work better than before, especially the brilliant, coruscating opener, "Reverence." Burning with some of the best nails-on-chalkboard feedback the band had yet recorded, combined with a whipsmart sharp breakbeat, all it took was the finishing touch of Jim Reid's sneering lines like "I wanna die like Jesus Christ" to make it another stone-cold classic single from the band. Other winners include "Sugar Ray," with beats and melody so immediate and addictive the track was actually used for a beer commercial, of all things, and the steady slap and crunch of "Good for My Soul." If there's a danger in Honey's Dead, it's that the near bottomless pit of reworked melodies and lyrics had almost reached its end -- even the final track, "Frequency," combines both "Reverence" itself with the Modern Lovers' "Roadrunner" -- which made the stylistic shift on Stoned & Dethroned a logical follow-up. William and Jim Reid split all the vocals almost evenly, the former especially shining on the nearly gentle "Almost Gold," the closest the record comes to a sweet ballad.

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