A whole plethora of experimentation went wild on the skin, shredded noise from six metal strings and crooned, screamed, dipped and soared in the 80's, a time of unremmitting experimentation. All drawn from the 50/60's alchemical sounds, the 70's boot into the door and 80's peers.
Jesus and Mary Chain were part of the stable, fitting in with Sonic Youth who supported them at Hammersmith Palais, Fall, Lydia Lunch, Swans, Butthole Surfers, Wire, Big Black, Neubauten, Laibach, Death In June, Nick Cave, Scientists, Moodists, Test Dept were all part of oeuvre.
JAMC built their life raft out of the outer fringes of Glasgow by listening and then becoming a Velvet Underground pathway soothed in big sound reverb. The vocal melodies played along to the bass, a Joy Division innovation taken from reggae, doused in Phil Spector big perfomance sound. The whole package coated in a sneer and powdered in brown dust.
Played it recently and the bottom end failed to shift. Never noticed at the time as the playback equipment was rudimentary, it was the exictement of the innovation that captured the senses. The template even more than the Pistols has been battered to death by a thousand inferior copies. Other peers took elements and reinvigorated the template; Death In June and Nick Cave were darker the Scientists and Moodists were...moodier and more angst ridden. Big Black more ferocious, Swans and Sonic Youth far more experimental. Butthole Surfers far more mad and Wire more sweeter, Lydia more bitter and Mark E Smith out to lunch.
All part of the same supernova. JAMC took one aspect of a wider canvas and then the copyists in the indie cannon fodder who appeared afterwards narrowed their focus even further. This eventually became pastiche, the sweetest of melodies embroiled in the harshest of sound.
Eventually JAMC ditched the noise and sang straight. They lasted for a further 4/5 albums. Experimentation shifted as JAMC raised their arms towards stadium rock. They failed and the whole edifice deflated with the aplomb of a pin pricked souffle.
This album is a diamond amongst the muck of the corporate rock hurbis, the flip side of the 80's.
This music is for sweaty clubs, the squat land of Berlin, the new factory's yet to be be unleashed. It is the noise of love coated in turmoil, just like honey.
on 1 July 2000
If God made music it probably wouldn't sound like this however I'm sure even the divine one would try to rip this off. The Marychain are possibly the most important indie band in the last 20 years and this was their launch pad. From the off the album winds its way around your soul speaking to you of your bad days; ; your good days and why it really does feel good to be down. Just like honey really does sound like it was recorded in a tin shed and the opening line "listen to the girl as she takes on half the world" sets the tone for the marychains assault on the musical world. If you plan to buy an indie album start here and then buy the rest of the marychain albums you really will do yourself a favour.
Inspired by The Velvet Underground and perhaps The Cure, The J&M Chain made feedback and distortion an integral part of their wall of sound, creating a unique and distinctive niche in rock music. It was in the way they did it - the distortion never sounds intrusive or discordant but complements the detached vocals for a cohesive music of eerie beauty. In this crucial way the music differs from most of the output of the industrial genre, in that it has a flowing, hypnotic quality. My favorite tracks on this seminal album include Just Like Honey, The Living End, The Hardest Walk, Sowing Seeds, My Little Underground and the sublime You Trip Me Up, a poignant blend of the tender and the ominous. Psychocandy is a successful experiment in blending feedback with melody, creating atmospheric but always tuneful soundscapes that linger in the mind.
on 14 March 2012
Along with The Smiths these guys are crowned as the savers of 'guitar music' of the 80's. Now everyone rants and raves about The Jesus & Mary Chain but most don't go further than 'they're cool' in way of an explanation as to why they like them, but I'll try and go further than that.
They are punk rock; the sound, the attitude and the live gigs, often played not facing the audience and ending in a riot after only a few songs, all make them unique hailing from an era of New Romantics and Synthpop. And they did guitars like no-one else before them, William made the songs squeal with a thick, reverb ridden, distorted racket. Underneath the layers of fuzz and noise though are absolutely perfect pop tunes, songs like Just Like Honey, Hardest Walk and Cindy wouldn't sound out of place on a daytime BBC radio show if they'd of just been striped of their guitar onslaught. Then with songs like Candy Talking it's already there, really perfect jangle pop (very much what Bobby Gillespie took from JAMC for the first Primal Scream album), these are songs that even my Mum likes, they are that nice to listen to.
Of course there's the heavier tracks as well, these may not appeal to those BBC 2 listeners, but to me the contrast makes the album. Motorbike orientated The Living End is a song that Alex Turner wishes he had the bollocks to write, full on filthy Rock 'n Roll the way it's meant to be done, songs like In A Hole aren't far behind and the ender It's So Hard with the fuzz turned up to a new level, where the guitar screech throughout the short, sharp 2 and a half minutes, but that's all it needs to get the point across.
By the end you know you have listened to something truly unique and that maybe no other band will make such a masterpiece in the same vein again*. The bench mark is up there now still in my mind with no other band yet to top it, it cannot be perfected as the originators perfected it themselves, and with only one record.
*Some may argue Loveless topped this, and in my mind it is a better album, but at the same time I put them in different leagues. My Bloody Valentine made beautiful, lovely dream-pop where as The Jesus & Mary Chain make all-out rock 'n roll. Despite similarities, I struggle to compare the two.
on 31 August 2000
The first time ever I heard the Jesus and Marychain in 1984 I was blown away. The excessive use of feedback, simplistic drumming by Bobby Gillespie(Yes Primal Screams Mainman). It was beautiful. The pre-album singles didn't let me down one bit. And then the album. What can I say? It is among my 5 all time favourite albums, surpassed only by The Velvet Undergrounds White Light/White Heat album. Psychocandy is noisy, obnoxious and assaulting but absof**kinglutely beautiful, all the things a really great popalbum should be. The songs, the noise, everything about it is the mental medication the title does suggest. 5 stars out of five is not enough really. F**KING BRILLIANT.
on 23 December 1999
A wise man once said that the simple things in life are often the best. The Jesus & Mary Chain epitomize what is best in the alternative arena via emotional, simple songs. If Psychocandy was a wet rag being twisted and rung, the substances extracted would be love, sadness, anger, and joy. As with most JMC albums, Psychocandy contains whisping verse over accoustic play, emotional chorus over power chord triads, and the most grating feedback ever heard. Over the years JMC has exemplified that simple, emotionally true writing often outweighs virtuosity - displayed on this album. This stuff may be simplistic, but man it's a great listen. If your ears can stand the feedback, I highly recommend Psychocandy (& all JMC albums) as an anchor to any alternative collection.
on 28 April 2004
The sad thing is that probably only people looking for JAMC will ever readthis review, and they'll already know the truth about Psychocandy. On theoff chance that you stumble across Psychocandy, better chance on Amazonthan anywhere else I guess, JAMC's first LP is simply outstanding. After15+ years it still sees regular play and The Hardest Walk still resides inmy top 5 tracks of all time.
For people of a certain age Psychocandyis a seminal work sitting comfortably alongside; Power, Corruption & Lies,The Stone Roses, Disintegration, London Calling, A Northern Soul,Doolittle, Nevermind or Hunky Dory - it's simply an LP you have to have inthe collection.
Sadly I won't witness the wonders of the 10 minuteassault as I did at ULU many summers ago, but a few glasses of wine, alate summers evening and Psychocandy at about volume 15 still sends thetingles down the back of your neck.
on 16 February 2011
Psychocandy paved the way towards shoegaze, by infusing dream-pop (already established way back in the 60's with songs such as "Sunday Morning" by The Velvet Underground) with lots Beach Boys style melodies with layers of ear shredding feedback and distortion, complemented by Jim Reids slurred vocals. Though no doubt an important album, the Jesus And Mary Chain didn't invent dream-pop, they didn't invent noise-rock and they didn't invent acid-rock. They just found the common denominator between them. Sometimes its just about being at the right place at the right time.
Every song on Psychocandy is the perfect pop song, each song is the perfect length, it never loses its focus and it still sounds so fresh. Perfect 50s/60s style surf-pop songs buried under a thick layer of feedback, distortion and fuzz, I'll never know how the band managed to find such an irresistible balance between noise, melody and harmony but The Jesus and Mary Chain did it and this is one of the best things my ears has ever experienced.
However I must admit at first I didn't get it, but the sonic torture this album puts you through is so strangely addicting. There's so many different divergent aspects of the album that meet so perfectly. One moment I'm concentrating on a poppy and catchy melody, but then my attention will be slammed in reverse to the reverberating slabs of noise. Another moment I'll be smiling at the sweetness of the melodies, but a second later I'll feel like head banging to the massive beat matched with a wall of guitars. It really shouldn't work, but because it does it's amazing to listen to. A distorted and destructive nightmare-version of pop music, this is really quite marvellous: simple yet beautiful pop on the inside, rather nasty noise on the outside. What makes this concept work is that the songs themselves are great,
With a punk attitude which got them called "the new Sex Pistols", complete with fights against the audience and stage destruction, the Jesus and Mary Chain's charm laid on its ferocious noise layer which sets the decibel bar at the highset possible. However loud they were, they still had their commercial appeal, with an average track length of 3 minutes and with lyrics dealing with car crashes and crashing relationships with honey drenched girls or the knife in the head of Cindy. Some bands come across better live than they do on record and in this particular case I think that could be true, to fully appreciate the sound you need to be immersed in it.
The time was 1985 the alternative scene was ruled by The Smiths who were peaking and Echo and the Bunnymen were turning "Pop". The time was right for something different. The Scottish duo of brothers Jim and William Reid took the invention of power-pop melodies of The Beach Boys mixed with the "Wall of Sound" production and the feedback distortion of The Velvet Underground to make a complete innovation. Furthermore, synthesizing the simplicity of the Ramones and the fury of the Sex Pistols, the siblings boasted their elementary arrangements into something rebellious and at times, utterly tender, utterly blissful.
This is there most intense recorded as they mellowed out in subsequent recordings. Although it could be argued that JAMC were nothing more than retro it's amusing to think that some of the Britpop bands of the 90's looked to JAMC for inspiration, like Ride for example.
This album shows that using a minimalist approach to song writing is not only fair and effective it can be beautiful and its fair to say that in this particular instance that can be quite hard. The Reid brothers had an irritating habit of rhyming the most obvious pairs of words (fast/last, away/day) but as a whole the lyrics were pure pop gold. The noise isn't a cop out, covering up mediocre songs with a wall of noise, like some claim be cause somebody else could have just as easily turned these songs into a classic jangle pop album had the distorted guitars been replaced with clean guitars, and the hollow production replaced with clear and bright production. The great melodies and songs are definitely there. I think that's the essence of its charm. My belief is that they are actually sticking two fingers up at the industry.
Thank God they got away with it
on 8 October 2010
In a recent edition of retro music magazine Mojo Super Furry Animals Gruff Rhys was asked, if push comes to shove, what is your all-time favourite album? His response was pretty level-headed. He said:
"This changes every week, but it will be difficult for anything to ever match the head rush felt by listening to Psychocandy by The Jesus And Mary Chain as a 15-year-old."
I can kind of see Rhys's point. I had a similar experience. It is one of a select few albums that I have instantly played again after first hearing (such as Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Queen Is Dead, Never Mind The B*llocks, and Closer).
on 5 September 2010
Jesus And Marychain coined 'feedback-pop' which was a variation on the psychedelic revival of the 1980s. The idea was quite simple, certainly not new and clinically cynical in its concept and execution. Rather like the musical version of the alchemist's, the band took the Velvet Underground's 'White Light White Heat', added a catchy melody and Phil Spector's 'wall of sound', a layer of guitar noise - massive distortions coupled with a nihilistic ethos borrowed from the Sex Pistols and the existential despair of Joy Division, and hey presto, 'Psychocandy' (1985) was born.
Furthermore, they borrowed their iconography from The Ramones and the Sex Pistols to arrive at a new paradigm of rebellion in music. The songs are divided between tender, spectral and surreal ballads reminiscent of the chants sung by Nico ('Just Like Honey', 'You Trip Me Up', 'Hardest Walk'), tribal voodoobilly 'hyper abrasive' nods to Suicide ('Living End', 'Never Understand', 'In A Hole'), chanting melodies wrapped in hallucinogenic 'Doors-like' trance ('Taste the Floor') and rampant bubblegum choruses ('My Little Underground').
With 'Psychocandy', the Jesus And Marychain introduced a strong sense of melody and cadence, and devastating generational psychedelic anthems which exemplified the mood of the times. At the same time they revived the paranoid primitivism of the Velvet Underground. Ultimately their up-dated feed-back power-pop chimed with the ritualistic requirements of the music industry of the time.