The Jesus & Mary Chain: Stoned & Dethroned (1994)
While the Jesus & Mary Chain's debut, Psychocandy, was truly revolutionary, burying Beach Boys-worthy pop tunes behind a wall of distortion and feedback, a motif that dozens of bands would borrow (often effectively), it did beg the question of whether the band's music would stand up without that boisterous wall of sound.
The albums that followed gradually reduced the din, each with enough stellar tracks (and still enough fizzy guitar buzz) to be worthy additions to the catalog. But they went all-in on this one, dropping the distortion entirely, resulting in a restrained, almost acoustic-sounding jangle-pop album, yet still sounding like the work of the same band. If Psychocandy is the album I can blast to scare off any of my less musically-adventurous friends, Stoned & Dethroned is the one I can play at pretty much any gathering without raising an eyebrow. Which doesn't mean it's bland -- just a surprisingly warm, inviting album that is probably the one I reach for most often these days.
The album has a sure-fire ringer in "Sometimes Always," with Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star dropping by for a boy-girl duet that updates "I've Got You Babe" for the post-goth set, with Sandoval clearly getting the upper hand. Nearly as stunning are "She" and "Girlfriend," two drop-dead winners that are as memorable as anything the band has done to date, earcandy pop that demonstrates how well Psychocandy would've worked even without the feedback blare. "Come On" is another nice one, while "Till It Shines" is almost Teenage Fanclub-esque in its cheery shimmer. The balance is at times a bit too slow and quiet, blending together, but as a cohesive listening experience makes for a thoroughly relaxing sit-down.
Here's the "Sometimes Always" video: