Creative Adult // Psychic Mess
Run for Cover
Recommended Track: Halfway
Creative Adult’s press materials compare them to Joy Division, but their vibe has nothing to do with that band’s tightly-wound nerves. They sound more like the inner monologue of a guy on his eighth beer pumping himself up to do something he will regret for the rest of his life. Yeah, it’s kind of a one-note vibe—they subscribe fully to the theory of “everything blown-out forever always”—but somehow Psychic Mess still manages, for the most part, the difficult trick of making sonic violence without coming off totally stupid or inane. This puts it a shelf or two above an awful lot of recent punk.
CA earn points for their schizophrenic drums, which crank along serviceably until suddenly exploding in maniac fits, bringing on a welcome sense of danger. Ditto the slack-jawed, drool-slinging vocals, which have some of the future-caveman swagger of the Swedish band Holograms. There’re a couple of immaculate songs here, too, including overall standout “Halfway,” which features a really brutal attack-and-release chorus buoyed up by a mean, yowling guitar riff, and the single “Deep End” (which is strangely mellow and poppy for this record, but you know, fuck it, it’s a very well-done straight rock song, and I won’t begrudge them that).
They even pull off the obligatory 9th-inning experimental track, “Exposed,” although it does make a further case for retiring the lyrical trope of heads exploding (it was over long before Ty did it, bro.) And even when things go further afield on the B-side, especially with the Floydian navelgazery of “Psychic Message,” there’s always at least something to grab hold of. This is a good punk band.
Which is why it kind of pisses me off that the production is terrible. I know, I know, here I go trying to fix a lo-fi recording, but listen: for some reason, to my great regret, somebody with decision-making authority decided that every single instrument needed to be compressed until it was actually disorienting and oppressive to listen to. You get what they were after, but every time the floor tom gets hit, it WHOOMs around the inside your head until you feel like you’ve been clubbed over the head with a rock. It doesn’t totally ruin the songs, but it’s frustrating knowing that they could have been so much more effective just by turning down the compression knob. This, in addition to the odd choice to throw generous helpings of studio talk and noodling between songs, really undermines the impact of what could have been a really listenable LP.
Gripes aside, Psychic Mess gets my seal of approval. It’s definitely flawed, but there’s gold in there, if you are willing to go to the trouble of sifting for it.