Album Review – The M Squared Recordings and more, 1981​-​84 by Tangled Shoelaces (2021) (Chapter Music)


May be an image of 3 people and people standing

When I was 10, I was infatuated with Subbuteo and football in general. When I was 14, my infactuation had largely moved onto Tina Killick, the hottest girl at my school and most probably the whole world. She dumped me for a ginger called Nigel in the year above and my world has remained largely crushed and ginger free, ever since.
In comparison, the Tangled Shoelaces, consisting of Brisbane siblings, Stephen, Lucy and Martin Mackerras, along with neighbour Leigh Nelson, were a Brisbane based band of 10-14 year olds, who plainly hid similar infatuations by supporting punk bastards like The Dead Kennedys and the snidey social commentator, John Cooper Clarke. I would be jealous, but I’ve kissed Tina Killick.
But somehow, despite their tender age and the fact that the Chapter Music promo blurb claims their support of such acts was ‘wildly inappropriate’, their is just something about their overall aesthetic which was every bit as ‘absolute pop culture’ as the above acts.
For this album, beyond being totally superb, moves beyond just that, by being something of a snapshot of the better of the musical underbelly of the early 80s, with most of it residing somewhere on the left field end of the jangle spectrum.
Initially the dominant post-punk sound of the era’s indie underground is repeatedly represented. Tracks such as S.E.P is every bit the jangly, funky groove of A.C.R or APB, whereas Rejection is the best Siouxsie and the Banshees track that Siouxsie never scribed.
Similarly the softer, jangly indie-pop end of the post-punk arsenal, is represented in The Biggest Movie Ever Made and the superlative stand out, Sleeping. These tracks adopt the absolute indie-chic weirdness of the Television Personalities and wrap it, less than neatly, in the slight sense of dulcet that typified the post-punk era.
The best of the album is seen in a group of tracks that are best represented by World, Oceans Away and Giant Rabbits. Here the sparsity and perfect pregnant pauses and glitches of the Young Marble Giants sound, is fractured by tiny fragments of guitar pop. In general these arouse the initial feeling that Mom and Dad must have been pulling some serious ‘maturity strings’ in the background, however the lyrical persuasions tend to be so child like, that such thoughts are quickly dispelled.
In fact much of the album is much of what you might expect if you suddenly stumbled upon a group of (very) youngsters, with a huge knowledge of the era’s music and a ridiculous amount of talent, i.e. perfect childlike twee. 
In this repsect they never disappoint with Turn My Dial, Political Jokes, Little Bear and What Do You Want From Me, seeing them release their lyrical naivety and playfulness in sounds that are so precociously twee, that they are somewhat reminiscent of the sort of C86 sound of the early BMX Bandits or more recently, the revival of that sound in the softer parts of fellow Aussies, Parsnip.
This band disappeared after just one official single, however all credit to the musical archaeologistsat Chapter Music who have uneathed yet more Aussie musical treasures !!!



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