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Sunday, June 5, 2005

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The Go-Betweens: "Oceans Apart"


On their third album since reuniting five years ago, Robert Forster and Grant McLennan utilize the services of producer Mark Wallis, who worked with them on "16 Lovers Lane," their last studio album before the Go-Betweens split in 1989 and also their lushest record.

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"Oceans Apart" isn't as ambitious, but it's fuller-sounding than the last two albums, stuffed to the gills with background choruses, inventive guitar counterpoints and peripheral instrumentation. It sounds like it cost more money than the Go-Betweens usually spend on their angular pop, but with middle age comes more astute priorities, and it's clear that the duo know this is the strongest set of songs they've produced since the breakup, so why not?

McLennan's romantic rigamarole, which hasn't always hit the spot in the past 15 years, is especially fetching on "This Night's for You," with its echoey atmospherics and crashing chords. And Forster just keeps getting better and better, as if he's been waiting for the day when his nostalgia is ripe enough to tap. Reminiscing about a girl he used to know with "black moods she calls her own," he channels the past with a witty intensity that makes you feel just as wistful as he does, even if you have no idea where "The Mountains of Dellray" are. Some will say his rip-off of Talking Heads' "Life During Wartime" that propels the opening cut, "Here Comes a City," is too nostalgic, but then David Byrne could use a good blast from the past himself.



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