Thursday, December 6, 2007

No. 268: Psychocandy

Band: The Jesus and Mary Chain
Album: Psychocandy
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: Just as My Bloody Valentine perfected Shoegaze, "Psychocandy" was the album that set the template. With a nod to the Velvet Underground's guitar screech, the band's high vocal harmonies make for great listening.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: Some of the songs do run together.
Best song: The lead singer and opening track, "Just Like Honey" is brilliant, as is the almost industrial "Inside Me" and the brilliant "Never Understand."
Worst song: I don't love "Sowing Seeds."
Is it awesome?: Absolutely.

I was never really a big shoegaze fan. A few friends from college were into it, but I never found time for it, I guess. The best shoegaze, though, is nearly unstoppable (even if a lot of it sounds the same).

"Psychocandy" is among the best shoegaze out there. It's a wonderfully cool -- while still grating -- record with Beach Boys harmonies. While that sounds like an off combination, the juxtaposition works wonderfully.

It's a unique sound, even today. While most modern distortion and reverbed guitar rock is full, the guitar sound on "Psychocandy" sounds like a junkie; distant and thin. Not surprisingly, much of the album is about heroin.

One thing I did not get from "Psychocandy" on first listen is something, when pointed out to me, makes perfect sense. Take it away, Pitchfork review:

The UK loved it, and it’s worth asking why. One reason, I think, is that people in the stylish 80s were thrilled to see their own personal resurrection of the same rock’n’roll “cool” myth that runs through fellow heroin enthusiasts like the Stones, the Pistols, and Nirvana-- which is to say, a band that doesn’t seem to give a fuck about much, including pleasing its own audience, and thus lets that audience live out its own (sensibly unfulfilled) fantasies of alienated non-fuck-giving and antisocial moping.

That's really the essence of shoegaze, right? MBV and Slowdive wanted to do exactly that (with MBV triumphing), but "Psychocandy" is really the first instance of it.

Is it as good as the MBV record? Not even close, but that doesn't make it not great.

1 comment:

kellydwyer said...

Saw them in 8th grade with Mazzy Star. Likely the fuzziest show I've ever been to.