The Jesus and Mary Chain - Psychocandy - Review
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critics' view

For anyone who wasn’t old enough to be there, the mid 80s were a very odd time to be alive and listening to music. While the world bowed down to the Smiths and U2, the music press scoured the earth for new skinny white boy rock sensations. But even the achingly hip couldn’t have predicted the mutant offspring of William and Jim Reid; two skinny white boys from East Kilbride.

The seismic shift was enormous, but the tools were blunt and crude. A cocktail of speed and hallucinogens mixed with equal parts Beach Boys’ melody and Velvets’ minimalism, all dressed in leather and back-combed hair ; suddenly rock seemed as confrontational as it had ten years before. Heralding their vinyl arrival with a series of provocatively short gigs (average length: ten minutes) staged by nascent scene-maker Alan McGee, the brothers Reid - aided by the brain-dead stomp of a young Bobby Gillespie on drums – set forth their stall of proto-shoegazing.

Sheets of feedback over inept tribalism and sweetened by doleful, yet amazingly sweet vocals; Psychocandy was everything the hype promised. It still sounds distinctly antisocial, but it was to be possibly the single hugest influence on the next generation of guitar bands. From the blitzed-out stonerisms of Spiritualized and My Bloody Valentine to the angry grunge of Frank Black’s Pixies, few who listened remained untouched by this sonic calling card.

The reason it worked was their innate love of classic 60s pop and psychedelia as much as the Stooges. The ghosts of Love and Phil Spector haunt the wasted grooves of "Just Like Honey" and "You Trip Me Up", while the lurching metal mayhem of "In A Hole" would resurrect the in-yer-face Detroit icons like the MC5. The difference of course being the general air of post-modern disinterest that made it all so alluring.

Weirdly, their truly classic pop moment came just after this album with their single “Some Candy Talking”. But Psychocandy remains a touchstone for all the people who ever believed that rock was for waking you up. It still provides that visceral thrill…

Chris Jones
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The BBC's album reviews ended in 2013, although the pages are archived for retrospective reading. external-link.png

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