Noise pop is alternative pop at its purest. The Velvet Underground’s mixture of rock songs and avant garde sound experiments continues to be the most important choice in laying the foundations for alternative pop music’s path over the following decades. By the time two brothers known as The Jesus and Mary Chain released Psychocandy in 1985, the marriage had less to do with a cultural barrier being broken down between high and low art and more to do with the hazy, surreal soundscapes that the combination produced.
Psychocandy is an apt name for this groundbreaking record: though the tracks range from romantic pop songs (the Shangri Las were a Reid brothers favorite) to minimal post punk endeavors, they’re drenched in feedback, static noise, and reverb, turning even the sweetest of the tunes into narcotic lullabies. The vocals’ ethereal echoes float above the thin and detached fuzz, assuring some overwhelming immediacy in an album whose production seems to attempt to make the music sound as distant as possible. This contradiction is some of what makes Psychocandy so intoxicating and romantic. Even the Joy Division recalling freakout at the end of ‘In a Hole’ has an unhinged allure, never growing more disturbing than hypnotic.
Psychocandy is addictive, its noise is not lush or viscous like the My Bloody Valentine albums that would redefine noise pop to the point of attaching a whole new moniker to their “shoegaze”. It still worships the pop song and the apathetic rock attitude, providing an expressionistic opponent to music that was growing artificial and stale. Its 3 minute trances are a refuge for simple, pretty melodies to live on shrouded in endless cool, but the Reid brothers discovered that feeding even the most irreverent songs into the noise wall allowed them to emerge with a new beauty. When it’s straining to be born from a swirling sea of static, love for the barest, most uncomplicated music becomes irresistible.
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