Exercises in nostalgia don’t work when there’s a conscious effort to exhume relics from a bygone era. You can tell the difference between someone who is cynically trying to recreate the past and a person who is reliving it.
“Amputation,” the first single from Scottish noise-pop rockers The Jesus and Mary Chain, has the Reid brothers clearly reliving a vibrant (if besotted) past. Though their last album dropped in 1998, “Amputation” sounds older than that. It’s a sugary, volatile number that pretends Nirvana and everything that followed never happened. Hell the stereo-panning guitars wouldn’t be that out of place on any number of late-60s psych-rock tracks. The constant “ooooh” background vocals are something most “bands” don’t even bother with now (ditto for what may well be tambourine shakes in the background). There’s not a second of the band’s comeback single that isn’t anchored to the past. And in this case that works. By staying so firmly entrenched, the band doesn’t have to worry about faltering.