The Go-Betweens Oceans Apart (Yep Roc)
review by Jim Clark

Track Listing

1. Here Comes A City
2. Finding You
3. Born To A Family
4. No Reason To Cry
5. Boundary Rider
6. Darlinghurst Nights
7. Lavender
8. Statue
9. This Night’s For You
10. Mountains Near Dellray



Apparently, the Go-Betweens didn't like the nineties. They went on an extended break after 1988’s 16 Lovers Lane, a break that didn’t end until 2000’s The Friends Of Rachel Worth. And now they return with their third release of the new millennium, Oceans Apart.

Simply said, Oceans Apart is a breathtaking effort packed with irresistible tunes, great performances and perfect production. Joining frontmen Robert Forster and Grant McLennan are bassist Adele Pickvance and drummer Glenn Thompson, each returning from 2003’s Bright Yellow Bright Orange.

The Forster/McLennan songwriting team is in remarkable form. “Here Comes A City” starts things off with a nod to late 70’punk/new wave with Forster observing the sights while on a train ride to the city. “And why do people who read Dostoevsky always look like Dostoevsky,” he wryly observes.

The beautiful “Finding You” follows with a wonderful arrangement and catchy chorus that makes great use of McLennan’s lead and Pickvance’s backing vocals. Pickvance’s bass drives along the XTC-ish “Born To A Family,” another great, catchy tune.

The shimmering “No Reason To Cry” starts with some tasteful keyboard effects and what almost sounds like a bass synthesizer. Yet another irresistible chorus takes over while gentle acoustic guitar is prevalent all along. With some excellent counter harmonies and just enough of an electric guitar solo, this is an example of songwriting at its best.

A creepy organ part leads into “Boundary Rider.” Featuring another basic arrangement of acoustic guitar, bass, drums and keyboards, the song includes more poignant lyrics – “So you reach for things, you’re never satisfied/ You’re running down the years.”

Forster and McLennan try to get too ambitious on “Darlinghurst Nights,” as at over six minutes, the song tends to drag on a bit without enough variation to warrant it. Still, it makes an interesting listen lyrically, and a sort of freeform brass section closes out the piece.

With a pronounced bassline, “Lavender” has sort of a country feel to it, which is interesting as Forster and McLennan are writing about a girl in their homeland of Australia -“Everybody said that she’s good in bed, other people said that she’s well read.”

Exquisite synthesizer, mellow electric guitar and more beautiful lyrics highlight the wonderfully melancholic “Statue.” An eighties vocal and some toned down yet sturdy electric guitar drives along “This Night’s For You.”

Melodica opens the closing “Mountains Near Delray” with Forster giving a vocal not unlike Johnny Cash. Another track with country leanings, the song gives the listener a sense of nostalgia, of yearning.

Producer Mark Wallis gives an incredible effort on Oceans Apart, keeping the arrangements clean and the sounds just perfect. And, all in all, this disc is nearly perfect. Definitely one of the best releases of 2005.

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