This Jesus and Mary Chain article was written by Steven Loftin, a GIGsoup contributor
The 80’s was a treasure trove of experimentation and musical styles colliding, and the finest example of that is here, with The Jesus & Mary Chain’s (J&TMC) ‘Psychocandy’. An album that has melodies that were designed for popular songs but backed with loud, harsh guitar sounds that truly evoke raw emotion. What brothers William and Jim Reid created when they first started experimenting with the portable studio they first purchased with money from their Fathers redundancy package is something that took control and never let go.
The sound they came out with in ’85 was one that had just missed out on the punk-craze of the 70’s, though some might argue would TJ&MC have stood out this far from the crowd with such noise already at the forefront? Undoubtedly not. The influx of punk during this era was one equivalent to the boyband craze of today, the Reid brothers came about at exactly the right time; and that was the wrong time. ‘Psychocandy’ really is more of an appropriation of the record itself rather than a name. It’s happiness marred by complete and utter contempt for any vague representation of pleasantries.
Easily the starters of the “Shoegaze” genre, opening with ‘Just Like Honey’, a track that utilises the famous opening drum riff to ‘Be My Baby’ and is absolutely the perfect example of J&TMC’s modus operandi. A track that talks of love, but sounds like it’s emulating the confusion and frustration that comes with it. Every layer in the tracks is a chaotic collision of noise, almost the musical equivalent of atoms colliding.
They truly created soundscapes that you could get lost in, ‘Tastes of Cindy’ begins with lyricism about the standard “losing a girl” topic, but keeps you entranced with it’s use of screeching, wailing guitar feedback that perfectly harmonises with the main, ploughing riff and Reid’s solemn singing. Then you’re taken straight into ‘Never Understand’, another prime example of the classic pop melody while Reid sings, but the entire thing is encapsulated in not only the heavily distorted and feeding back guitars, but also just perfectly orchestrated noise, even some screaming just for good measure.
Upon releasing their first 7” and getting vast amount of that dangerous beast called hype, J&TMC managed to actually deliver and become one of the most talked about and influential bands in the UK. Notorious for riotous live shows and simply not giving a fuck, they carved a path that their predecessors in punk couldn’t, through the marriage of genres to the point that they’re barely recognised. The sound on ‘Psychocandy’ is something that hasn’t been heard in a long time, and it’ll be a long time before we hear it again, all we need is the right band at the wrong time again.