Album of the Week: Stream Psychic Teens’ Deliciously Scuzzy Debut ‘COME’
A creepy-crawly, rubbed-raw treat for fans of Pissed Jeans, Sacred Bones, and general discomfort
“We’ve attracted a lot of… weird teens on Twitter,” says Psychic Teens vocalist Larry Ragone.
“Yeah,” agrees bassist Joe Decarolis. “A lot of them reach out to say, ‘Thanks for the psychic support group!'”
“Maybe they’d be disappointed if they actually heard us play,” adds drummer Dave Cherasaro.
Named one of SPIN’s Best New Artists of August 2013, the Psychic Teens blur shoegaze-swelled guitar lines, beefy surf-punk bass lines, and echoes of post-punk forefathers moaning from the grave — all punctuated, of course, by a little bit of clairvoyance. “Most of the time we go in with one riff, just look at each other, and know what’s going to be happening,” Decarolis says.
The result is the band’s hypnotic second release, the stunning COME, a never-get-clean call-and-response record offering a darker, moodier version of the clanging-and-banging nü-pigfuck of bands like Pissed Jeans, Pop. 1280, and Destruction Unit.
“It was totally a Halloween thing when we got together,” admits Decarolis. The band has a collective love of horror films and the enigmatic appeal of avant-weird filmmakers like David Lynch — Ragone even boasts a Mulholland Drive tattoo. Their penchant for a good scare is evident in slow-burning COME creepers like “LUST” (a vampire story that sinks into the skin with each scuzz-throttle) and “Bug” (which, naturally, recalls Kafka’s Metamorphosis).
“We’re not songwriters in the sense where we have this grand scheme of telling a story,” explains guitarist Larry Ragone. “Like MBV and Lush, we try to keep everything short, and there’s not a sense of importance as far as lyrics go.”
“It’s atmosphere that helps move the song along, and adds to what Psychic Teens is,” adds Decarolis.
In that sense, the mystifying trio is intent on listeners interpreting the songs for themselves: Good luck getting them to reveal what any song means. “A lot of bands I really like have been economical about the information they put out,” says Ragone. “Bands like Joy Division — they kept it at a minimum and let people fill in the details with what they hear.”
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Larry Ragone, vocals: “With this record, we wanted to start with something very jagged and dense and an explosion of sound. Lyrically, for me, it set the tones of what <i>COME</i> is about: dark, isolated, distrusting. You, know those fun summertime things.
Ragone: It’s definitely a rager, short and sweet. We like this as the second song because it just steps up to the plate and delivers everything we like: pounding rhythms, heavy guitars at the end. I can’t for the life of me remember writing this song at all. It probably one of those songs that came together really quickly, and show-ready, too.
Ragone: The hashtag is the joke that made the record. One, it looks really cool. Two, it also kind of sets itself up with self-promotion with Twitter, and I guess entities and bands celebrate oneself. I think a lot of that carries through with the lyrics, too. It’s definitely an angry song, though.
Ragone: There’s a little bit of a vampire story here. The darkness and this stark, visual imagery in my head, it reminds me vampires. Maybe <i>Twilight</i>. That really started as one main part, then went through a lot of structural changes before we landed on something we liked a lot. It’s easy to play that main part for 20 minutes, but that doesn’t make it a song. </p>
Joe Decarolis, bass: It’s our most raucous punk song, but also one of the more straightforward rock songs we have. This is a pretty misanthropic song. </p>
Ragone: There’s a lot of good push-and-pull and interplay here, which I enjoy. It’s a very satisfying song for all of us, but apocalyptic at the end.
Decarolis: I like where this falls in the record on vinyl. Side A is very dense all the way through and ends with “Lord” which is one of our densest songs. Then you flip it over, and the first half of “Come” is a lot more open than the last few songs at the end of side A. I think it lets the record breathe.
Ragone: We just shot the music video for it. It’s us playing a white room — which, in actuality, is Joe’s garage, but we removed all the litterboxes. We took a bunch of amps and put them behind us, way more than necessary. As the song progresses, the amps go away, and we’re in various states of undress. It’s very “hot.” Also, this sounds so much creepier than it actually is.
Ragone: I wrote this right before I had to go in the studio and sing it. It was one of those stream-of-consciousness ones. I don’t even know if I saw a bug.
Ragone: For this we had to keep dynamics in mind, and know when to pull back and really let loose. We didn’t want this to be a loud drone for six minutes. It’s probably the sparsest track on the record, lyrically speaking. It ended up being a good bookend to the record — melodic, dense, and has a big finale ending where it’s really loud. Very melodramatic for a last album cut.