Student Flat Reunion
Darren McShane (Stick No Bills, Chainsaw Masochist) has long been a pop outsider with an innate understanding of the actual insides of a pop-tune, of what makes it move, how to propel an idea through 2-3 minutes, adding just the right amount of jangle and never sounding too much like a jingle.
As Superturtle – or at least as the driving songwriting force behind that name – he’s created a strange and often wonderful set of songs across the years. I’m always interested when a new Superturtle record is unleased. This one actually is a record – 13 of its 19 tracks are on vinyl and there’s an accompanying CD with the full run of tunes (and you can stream it and download it and do all of those non-physical format activities too of course).
But it makes sense for Superturtle to release on vinyl – this is a music that belongs to another era. I hear echoes of Phil Judd’s spiky pop brilliance, and again with that outsider-status, being removed from the machine but with a degree in how it works, able to unpick and unpack, to dismantle and rearrange.
Think Kiwi classics from the 1980s here, Judd’s Swingers, Mi-Sex, even some of the post Sailor shenanigans.
As with many that came of age through the 80s and into the 1990s there’s a touch of 60s dayglo pop to proceedings too.
Crawling The Wall has a UK post-punk urgency, A Shiny New Way feels like the antipodean version of The B-52’s, all bounce and squelch with slackened vowel-sounds.
Elsewhere, That’s What You’re Looking For is over, almost before you can find it – similarly Who Put The Knives On speaks to the album’s title theme, but only very quickly.
The actual title track is a widescreen, shimmering bask however, stretching out to just over the three-minute pop confines where many of McShane’s best ideas know to express themselves before an existential cut-off.
This is a fine return for Superturtle. The band/McShane’s best album. Full bursting with ideas and flavours. And that Judd thing is so strong here to me. I mean, there’s even a song called La Da De Da. How bloody Kiwi. How very Swingers. And how fucking brilliant it is, more Sneaky Feelings in its execution perhaps. But it’s a winner. One of many on this very fun, often very fine album.