If you’ve spent any length of time on this blog, you know that my favorite band is The Jesus and Mary Chain. I’ve been to three of their concerts and have most of the songs on Darklands memorized. Their debut, Psychocandy, set the tone, but it’s Darklands that’s my favorite of their albums.
Today we’re talking about a cover of a song from that album, “On the Wall.” “Just Like Honey” is the Chain’s best-known song and consequently the most covered, so this one is a unique find. The cover is by Gospel Gossip, a band from Minneapolis that, as far as I can tell, hasn’t released anything new since 2014. Their sound is fitting for a Jesus and Mary Chain cover: loud and somewhat dissonant shoegaze that holds a kernel of pop in the mix.
The Mary Chain version of “On the Wall” is actually a departure from their usual sound: it’s quick and layered with a drum machine. (Darklands experiments with drum machines a lot.) The typically angsty tone of Jim Reid’s voice, combined with their typically angsty lyrics, gets lost in the almost perky sound. The guitar here is lovely, but it’s lighter, smoother, and overall more positive than the slower and more meditative atmosphere of the rest of Darklands: see “Deep One Perfect Morning.”
In contrast, the Gospel Gossip version sounds almost more like a Mary Chain song than the original version does. It is much slower and more atmospheric, with a trembling guitar line under the soft vocals. That makes the lyrics stand out even more. I find the contrast between the female singer and the line “These make me taste/Like a man” interesting. The drum line here doesn’t come from a machine. It feels almost like a heartbeat. At the end of the song, with the line “I’m like a clock,” the drumbeat starts to sound like a clock ticking. It’s an excellent, subtle touch. Then it builds into “I’m like a clock on the wall” and the crescendo is such an excellent payoff. Listen below: