Album Review – Smokey Shady by Sam Wrangle (2023) (Self Released)


Brisbane’s Sam Wrangle first came to my attention with the release of his A Word for Toxic in October 2021, which underlined the brilliance of the lo-fi meets The Chameleons / A Certain Ratio style of post-punk that generally engulfed his back catalogue.
Thankfully, the mid-80s synth-laden dankness of Short of Breath and Balcony, as well as the bass-heavy melancholy of Sycophant and Stay Cool, shows that he seems determined to retain the connection with his post-punk roots.
However, Smokey Shady is altogether more jangle-encrusted and vibrant than any of his releases so far, and it is a new-found comparative exuberance that certainly suits.
As such, Workaday, Dead Text, Dress to Impress, and Soft Focus all attach forlorn, slightly aloof vocals to a dulcet High Sunn / Swiss Portrait style jangle gaze that engages the listener with just the right amount of subdued melancholy.
The very best of the album is consumed by arguably the best that Australiana has to offer. Here the wonderful Analogy for Tar and Rags to Riches juxtaposes the desolation of The Triffids vocal atmospheres with The Go-Betweens indie-pop essence that accentuates every tight, jangly note and melody in its uncluttered production technique.
This album just feels like the moment when Sam Wrangle began to appreciate what he is capable of as a musician and long may it continue.






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