Simon Williams, "What's The Mesh"

New Musical Express, July 15 1989, p. 30


The Honey Tangle (Fontana LP/Cassette/CD)

THIS IS the realisation of Brix Smith's dreams.

The woman who dragged The Fall from John Peel's bosom into the frontrooms of the nation has finally got The Adult Net sufficiently together to release a long player.

Don't tell anyone, but 'The Honey Tangle' isn't the first: way back in the Beggars Banquet days, a different line-up recorded an LP only to see it scrapped at Brix's, uh, 'request'. Which raises the question, how bad was that first effort? Because 'The Honey Tangle' is a far from impressive item. And it certainly doesn't justify the fervent attention previously administered to the Adult Net's sporadic activities.

The first notes arrive in a capella form, tugged straight from the Abba handbook of song creativity. In fact, 'Take Me' could well be 'Fernando' reincarnated, which indicates just how 'pop' orientated, nay obsessed, Brix is.

Of course, as we frequently tell you, there is absolutely nothing wrong with 'pop'. And funnily enough there is nothing wrong - in theory - with 'The Honey Tangle'. It celebrates pop's history, immersing itself in '60s scenarios and bearing forth the likes of 'August', which twitters 'You're my hazy, lazy friend, la la la," and stomps along quite elegantly. Its fellow tracks also shimmer pleasantly, and do their damn best to be as aesthetically pleasing as is musically possible. Which is fine.

Unfortunately, the sugary sweet elements eventually result in a saccharine OD - not a pleasant experience, I can assure you. Production polish causes Brix to all too frequently resemble a Talulah Gosh girlie, without the punkisms to back her up. And the desire for absolute perfection ensures that this is an impenetrable, one-dimensional artefact. At first one appreciates the simplicity, then one bemoans the lack of substance.

'The Honey Tangle' isn't lost, it is simply lightweight. Without wishing for a single moment to drag this down into a battle of the blondes, it lacks the sheer 'ooomph' of Voice Of The Beehive; it hasn't the adrenalin buzz of the Prims or the Buds; it doesn't possess the bollocks of Transvision Vamp, nor the depth of The Parachute Men. Even The Bangles have little to fear.

Only 'Waking Up In The Sun' resembles anything like redemption. Its original rough- edged recording would make it stand out like a steak and kidney pie at a vegetarian banquet here, so the ancient single has been re-recorded for inclusion. But at least its delicious harmonies and pouting jangles save 'The Honey Tangle' from a fate worse than (5).