Psychocandy at 30: Insolent Masterpiece or Boring Dirge?

Segal and Nokes Go Head-to-Head Over the Jesus and Mary Chain

Comments

1
JAMC is kind of my Adult test, as in, if you do not enjoy Psychocandy, you're probably not an adult listener of music. It is the inverse of The Doors- You cannot be an adult and enjoy The Doors.
2
Oh my god, I read this entire dirge and it was boring...yeah, Segal - there was nothing like this going on in 1985...except Whitehouse and High Rise (both better). And Ms. Nokes, you stick to your guns, there's nothing wrong with criticizing critic rock.

@1, the Doors. That babbling hippie and his cohorts should not be paid attention to by anybody over 21.
3
@2 So you're saying that in 1985 the noisy motherfuckers in Whitehouse and High Rise (whom I like a lot) had melodies as memorable as JAMC's?
4
I enjoyed this exchange. Still have the copy of Psychocandy my older sister bought when it came out and left it with me when she went to college shortly thereafter. Mentioned I was going to see them play it live and she replied "you'll be on the young side." My social media feed says otherwise.

@2 - High Rise? Not a lot of wallpaper-peeling guitar solos or double-bass pedal rolls on Psychocandy. Furthermore, it'd be hard to find a more disparate band to JaMC than Whitehouse. Both examples predate them by a good amount as well.

5
Psychocandy is awesome, beautiful, inspiring. I was born in 1982; didn't discover it until I was in my 20s (and had listened to countless bands that had ripped it off); and I still love the album. But as with any rad art, I don't agree that it matters if you were around when it came out, aside from maybe having a more nostalgic connection to it. You can say the same about the movie 2001 -- I obviously wasn't alive in the 60s to witness how it shook the culture of the time -- but it doesn't really matter, cause it still works as a film. Same with J&MC. The record is timeless & singular and doesn't need its context to sound the way it does (although I'm sure it adds a nice personal layer to the music). If the other writer disagrees on the continued relevance of this album, she should look at her music collection and count how many bands in it are inspired by this beautiful, f*cked up piece of art....
6
I was born in 1991, and Psychocandy is in my top 10 favorite albums. I think age has little to do with it. I just appreciate their tunefulness and love how the near-constant hiss of feedback and noise washes over the entirety of the album. I actually think the noise works against their energy a little bit - I'd even say it casts a sort of "drowsiness" over the whole thing - but I think the album succeeds not in spite of that, but because of it. It's like a band trying to fight its way out of a crinkly plastic bag, fighting (and sometimes failing) to be heard over the cacophony. Not for everyone's ears or tastes, but it works for me.
8
I bought it new when it came out, and I think you are both wrong.
To me, at the time, it wasnt revolutionary at all- it fit right into the current trend in english bands, not radically different from contemporary albums by The Cure, The Fall, Psychedelic Furs, The Cult, New Order, Sisters of Mercy, and another dozen or so big guitar bands from the UK.
Its pretty good, and I think it holds up- but its not some kind of sprung from nowhere earthshakingly new moment in pop music- it was totally of its time.
Big Hair and Black Leather were everywhere then.
9
I have no idea who Whitehouse and High Rise are, and I used to be cool.

Not that cool apparently.
10
I was totally with Dave until he dropped the comparison to Marquee Moon and Entertainment! Those two records are seriously innovative, while Psychocandy is genius pastiche: pinching the Ramones basic recipe, adding Velvets fuzz and drone, and sticking to the act for the duration of the album as if their lives depended on it. In its commitment to its own style, Psychocandy's got more in common with Andrew WK's I Get Wet than the debuts of Television and Gang of Four..
11
Correction: Hardly anyone was listening to this album upon it's initial release. There were no "... 'Steen-hating youth of the USA." Springsteen was at his commercial peak at this time -- pretty much universally loved by everyone, especially teen-agers. "Critic Rock" sums up this album. That bastion of counter-culture Rolling Stone, praised it as the best new thing in the world when it came out. That should tell you something.
12
Gots to totally agree with Mr. Schmader here. Summed it up perfectly. On a different tangent, I would be interested in hearing Dave Segal's take on the Doors.
13
What? College kids were listening to this upon its initial release, for sure.
Got a meal card, dorm key, Psychocandy, Head on the Door, and Ocean Rain upon arrival.
14
R. Chops speaks the truth. (Also, Low-Life and Meat Is Murder. And only one year away from EVOL...)
15
(And I wasn't a college student yet, just a highly pretentious high-schooler.)
16
@3, no Mr. Segal, I am not comparing the melodies of the JAMC to High Rise or Whitehouse. I get your point...I thought we were talking about noise and feedback to a degree also. Melodies were all over the place that were just as good if not better from the likes of Section 25, Orange Juice and a ton of great bands from the States like the Rain Parade and a band that had the Velvets and feedback written all over them, the Dream Syndicate. "The Days of Wine and Roses: is a much better debut than that of the JAMC and the hype machine that surrounded them. I am glad that your re-write of what Robert HIlburn wrote back many years ago has people talking.
17
@16, your opinion is valid but I think you're still missing the gist.
18
@12 Here's my take on the Doors: http://lineout.thestranger.com/lineout/a…

@16 I like all those bands you mentioned, but aside from the Dream Syndicate, they weren't combining noise and melody with the brash skill of JAMC. THAT is my main point re: the specialness of Psychocandy.
19
Psychocandy never worked for me either. I like the SOUND of the thing, but the SONGS are undistinguished. I much prefer the Magnetic Fields' Distortion album - consciously modeled on Psychocandy - where the echo and cacophony are paired with exceptional melodies and a whole lot of wit.
20
It's been 30 years?!?! Fuck...I'm old.
21
@18- exactly. Half those songs are like the goddam beach boys with a wall of distortion...which is a combo I can get behind. That is maybe why I think of this as an Adult listen- because it takes some context to assemble those pieces...in much the same way that early Sonic Youth did nothing for me as a 14 year old, but is so fucking exciting to me to this day. Melody is awesome, Noise is awesome...Both together can be a fucking revelation.
22
Dave, I love you but I don't know what you are talking about. When it came out, Psychocandy sounded like Echo and the Bunnymen through a fuzz box--not bad, but not really that different. Sounds the same now.
23
@22 Thanks, but I think you're wrong. The Bunnymen were more of a post-punk Doors, and they never came close to deploying feedback to the degree JAMC did on Psychocandy.
24
I wish Emily Nokes didn't have an opinion or you would have had this conversation with Dave and someone who had better taste or whose opinion mattered at all.