21 Singles is a perfect, understated title for a compilation that nonchalantly illustrates just why the Jesus and Mary Chain are revered by post-punk partisans and are considered so influential. Sure, Psychocandy is the masterwork -- ground zero for noise pop and shoegazing, a record that helped shift the course of indie rock in the second half of the '80s -- but to reduce their career to just that one record isn't fair, since the albums that followed found the Mary Chain exploring interesting ground, whether it was swirls of feedback and noise or dark, haunting soundscapes. Although albums like Darklands and Honey's Dead were consistent works in their own right, the group was often best heard through its singles -- and, collected together on this stellar collection, they form a strong canon. Again, Psychocandy remains their masterpiece, but for a summation of their entire career this is first-rate, giving all their best on one collection that is essential for any post-punk or alt-rock library.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine