Album: The Go-Betweens

Oceans Apart, LO-MAX
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The Independent Culture

Nobody paid much attention when Robert Forster and Grant McLennan announced back around the turn of the century that they were re-forming The Go-Betweens, after 12 years apart. But then, why would they pay attention? This wasn't some hell-freezes-over reunion like, say, Brett Anderson and Bernard Butler, and the two albums they went on to record didn't exactly challenge their Eighties work as the most vital components of the group's oeuvre. Perhaps it shouldn't come as such a shock that this diffident, modest outfit should take five years to get back up to speed, but with Oceans Apart they've finally hit something like their former stride. The band's sound is an earnest folk-rock, akin to a less wholesome Springfields, or a less poppy Searchers, best captured on the jaunty, janglesome "Born to a Family", a song about being not so much the black sheep as the unrepentant square peg of the family. Elsewhere, this basic mode is augmented by noodling clarinet, jazzy horn extemporizations or uplifting strings, as required. The two songwriters' styles are locked in equilibrium, the poignant, mythopoeic approach of McLennan's "Boundary Rider" and "The Statue" dovetailing neatly with Forster's more assertive attitude on "Here Comes a City", which has the tone of a Talking Heads travelogue.