Following a string of EP and 7" releases, San Francisco-based punk quartet Creative Adult unleashed their dark, aggressive energy in the longer format of their first full-length album, Psychic Mess. From their earliest recordings, the band's early goth influences always came through in a complex web with more contemporary reference points. Psychic Mess feels like a better-realized version of the band's weird mixture of Bauhaus or Joy Division-styled shadowy imagery and musical tension spun out through the nihilistic punk noise of bands like Pissed Jeans and Holograms. Tracks like the lurching "Charismatic Leader" take this hybrid into even noisier territory, with its uneasy flow of atmospheric guitars and jagged riffs recalling Confusion Is Sex-era Sonic Youth. The pulsing rhythm of "Flash" puts all of the previously mentioned influences through a post-punk dub filter, processing angsty hardcore drumming and guitar outbursts with the same hovering menace of PiL or the Pop Group. The band's punk intensity ebbs both furiously quickly, as with the demented Germs/L.A. punk-styled "Far Out," or lurchingly midtempoed, as with the fatalistic standout track "Deep End." "Exposed" pushes themes of isolation and displacement to the forefront with the same synth punk-infused fervor that made early Blank Dogs recordings so captivating. Healthy doses of experimental guitar treatment, unexpected use of space, and dynamic shifts in mood keep Psychic Mess moving along and full of surprises. While Creative Adult's short-fuse energy made their brooding earlier EP releases exciting, they've managed the difficult task of keeping that fire alive throughout what ends up being a lengthy and considered album, burning with a dark fire for the full duration of the 12 songs presented here.
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AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas