Man, nothing makes me feel like I’d wasted available time in my youth like listening to this collection of tracks from Australia’s Tangled Shoelaces. The band, who were all aged 10-14 at the time of recording were formed in a Brisbane suburb in 1980, primarily made up of a trio of siblings, Stephen, Lucy and Martin Mackerras and their friend Leigh Nelson. While on the surface the sticker shock of the age seems the tag here, one the comp gets rolling what’s impressive is that the kids were actually quite gifted songwriters, finding a line between new wave, jangle-pop, and a slightly softened psych-pop that still stands up. The band played around the Brisbane area, despite being too young to really be in many of the venues they’d found themselves working and they’d eventually get picked up by vaunted underground label M Squared.
The teens recorded a few sessions for the label, though the only release that would come of it was their sole 7”, an eponymous 4-cut EP released in ’84. They would go on to record some material outside of M Squared, on a cassette titled In The Land of the Lollypop Men, but this collection from Chapter remains the most comprehensive overview of their work, digging well into the unreleased M Squared sessions and unearthing a live recording from the kids’ primary school. The songs sparkle with liveliness that’s unfussed, free of expectations and clearly just channeling the sounds they love into their own mashed pop experience. The sounds run from rudimentary to rather layered, nipping at feelings of Marine Girls, Oh-OK, Kleenex, Young Marble Giants, and Television Personalities. Who knows how much of that actually made it into the mix. I certainly wasn’t bumping those in my pre-teens, but they achieve the same feelings and ramshackle glee. Come for the historical interest, but stay for the hooks that seem to get lodged in between the folds of the brain and start to fester.
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