4 of 8 thought this review was well written#268 on Rolling Stone Top 500 Albums List
The Jesus and Mary Chain was formed in Glasgow Scotland in the mid-1980's. They were one of the pioneers of white noise, and their sound which is heavy in feedback was inspired bands such as Dinosaur Jr., and My Bloody Valentine. The biggest influences for the Jesus and Mary Chain were punk legends The Velvet Underground and The Stooges, and also pop legends Phil Spector and Brian Wilson. The resulting sound is dark and bare, but ladened with sugary melodies. The band consists of brothers William and Jim Reid, Douglas Hart, and Bobby Gillespie (who later went on to help form Primal Scream).
Psychocandy was released in 1985, and marks the debut album for The Jesus and Mary Chain. On it, they implement just one style, one trick if you will, but oh man it is a great one. They combine Velvet Underground feedback and beats with Beach Boy melodies. The feedback is turned up as high as it goes, and the echo is plentiful. With this album, The Jesus and Mary Chain caused a movement in shoegazer and britpop, as more and more bands began to use the echo sound that is so perfect on this album.
There are two types of song on the album. There are the songs with the sugary pop melodies like "Just Like Honey", "You Trip Me Up", and "Never Understand" that don't crank up the feedback as high. Then there are also songs that are so amped up in feedback as that the song becomes a mess of sound. What great messes they are though, see "The Living End", "In A Hole", or "My Little Underground". The song lyrics are really about a variety of issues: girls, sex, drugs, you know, the usual stuff. What makes them so "effective" if you will, is the nonchalant way in which they are sung. Most of the songs are also rather short, with only one song on the album over 3:19 in length.
Bobby Gillespie - Drums, Snare
Douglas Hart - Bass
John Loder - Engineer
Jim Reid - Guitars, Vocals
William Reid - Guitars, Vocals
Because much of the album has a simmilar sound, I am not going to do a song by song review, but I will let you know a few of the notable songs. Here they are:
Just Like Honey
This song is probably the most popular Jesus and Mary Chain song. It was most recently featured in the hit movie Lost In Translation, and for that reason gets even more attention. It is however, a defining song in the noise rock genre. There is a soft drum beat, and a wall of sound, with feedback drenched, "buzzsaw" guitars. The line leading up to the chorus ("eating up this scum is the hardest thing that I can do") is a bit dark, but the chorus is very nice, and probably the most poppy part of the album when the "just like honey" part comes in with a nice high background vocal attached.
There is a heavy and grinding guitar assault with muted vocals, and another sugary melody. This was one of the very first singles for the Jesus and Mary Chain. The guitar feedback and metal hitting metal is unrelenting is responsible for the background, while a steady drum pounds away. The melody has a great hook, and makes the backing track more pleasing to the ears, but as the song is coming to a close, the screeching background is accompanied by what sounds like a person being tortured. This type of sound was unheard of in the 1980s and that is what makes this song such a classic in the genre.
You Trip Me Up
This is the defining feedback and buzz saw guitar-sound song in its earliest form. The guitars sound like a circular saw in a workshop. Fuzzy, noisy, and confrontational verses about having been used and abused are followed by the usual Jesus and Mary Chain chorus, a simple refrain, "you trip me up." In the later part of the song, the lyrics take on a different tone, and he goes from being the tripee (is that a word?) to being the tripper as he threatens "I'll trip you up." This is another single from the Jesus and Mary Chain, and a great song.
This is definately a one of a kind album. Nothing else sounds like this.
There are great hooks and sugary melodies.
Great use of echo and feedback.
Was a breakthrough album for the noiserock genre and influenced many bands.
Some songs can be too abrasive.
Many of the songs sound similar.
Not an album for any mood (you have to be in a Jesus and Mary Chain mood).
This was an album that had to grow on me. Upon listening for the first time I thought it had high points, but really didn't understand how the whole album fitted together. However, after repeated listens, I have come to the conclusion that this is a great album, not only for it influencial value, but also for it's content. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone, but people who enjoy noise rock or catchy melodies would likely find something on this album to like.