Thirty years ago today The Jesus and Mary Chain released their debut Psychocandy. The album was a landmark achievement for its combination of wall-of-sound distortion and (surf) pop sensibilities becoming the blueprint for what would eventually be known as shoegaze. At times the record knocks you over the head with the feedback and fuzz almost to the album’s detriment but as a debut it screams from the rooftops that The Jesus and Mary Chain are here and nothing will ever be the same again.
I was first introduced to the Scottish band in late 1990 when a friend gave me a copy of Psychocandy and The Smiths’ Rank for my birthday. At the time I was still pretty new to what would later be known as the alternative music scene and getting my first taste of the likes of the Pixies, Violent Femmes, Public Image Ltd., and so on. What I noticed first and foremost about Psychocandy is how much the record pulled from ‘60s rock and surf like the Beach Boys and The Supremes. Sure there was the nearly impenetrable wall of distortion and buzz but underneath all of that was melody, harmony, and great pop hooks. This fact would become a staple of the band’s catalogue, especially on 1994’s brilliant Stoned & Dethroned. Admittedly it took me years before I really appreciated The Jesus & Mary Chain, not because I didn’t like their music (I liked it very much) but because I needed time to really absorb their music (something I’m still doing to this day).
Psychocandy is a benchmark record. Without it we may never have gotten acts like My Bloody Valentine, Chapterhouse, or even the Pixies. This was an album that launched bands but more than that it is an album that has stood the test of time. Thirty years later Psychocandy still sounds as daring and fresh as it did upon its release, a statement that you could honestly attribute to the band’s entire catalogue because they really were/are that good.