New Towns to Tokyo

They're the brothers from East Kilbride whose band soundtracked one of modern cinema's most talked-about moments.

In the closing scene of Sofia Coppola’s award-winning cult film Lost in Translation, amid a bustling metropolis of neon and nameless faces, Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson’s characters embrace, share an indiscernible whisper, kiss and then part ways. It is a bittersweet scene, tinged with both tears and twinkled eyes, simultaneously straddling longing and closure. It has also spurred fervent online discussion of what words comprised that famed mysterious mutter.

Sound tracking this whole emotive departure and subsequent shots of the Tokyo skyline is the subdued thump of a drum-beat and the lozenge-like, sky-stretching guitar wash of ‘Just Like Honey’, lifted from the debut album of The Jesus and Mary Chain, the band fromed by brothers Jim and William Reid, whose feedback-drenched melodies – like the aforementioned movie – found their own cult following, way back in the 1980s.

Lost in Translation, 2003 © American Zoetrope / Sofia Coppola

Formed in 1983, The Jesus and Mary Chain’s 35 year career has been as eventful as they’ve been culturally impactful; they were signed by Alan McGee a good decade before he put Oasis in parties with the Prime Minister, Bobby Gillespie drummed their songs before the world first heard his own primal screams, they’ve sparred with fans, fell-out, split-up, rekindled, shared a stage with Scarlett at Coachella and the ripples of their pioneering output – spawning countless imitations – is still evident today, none more so than in Japan where they remain massively popular. Not forgetting that the South Lanarkshire lads’ universally-acclaimed debut Pyschocandy made the cut onto Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Brian David Stevens, Jim and William Reid (The Jesus and Mary Chain) (2008), © Brian David Stevens

Photographer Brian David Stevens’ image, which captured the brothers at Camden’s Roundhouse a decade ago, entered Scotland’s national art collection earlier this year.

It was on display in 2018 as the ‘Topical Sitter’ at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, to coincide with Rip It Up – The Story of Scottish Pop, the National Museum of Scotland’s ephemera-infused treasure trove of a show which cast a faithful eye upon Scottish songwriting throughout the years.

And much like they did with the characters in Coppola’s cinematic masterpiece, visitors could continue to debate and be transfixed by the Reid brothers’ electric, oscillating, symbiotic chemistry, the one that’s seen them utter a unique musical language few can speak, but many across the world can readily understand, and with none of that lost in translation.

8 August 2018