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Oceans Apart
     

Oceans Apart

by The Go-Betweens
 
It's not a rule that when two talented singer-songwriters connect, the results transcend the sum of their parts. But that's certainly the case with Robert Forster and Grant McLennan, who began their musical collaboration as teens in the late '70s, tried and failed to achieve chart success in the '80s,

Overview

It's not a rule that when two talented singer-songwriters connect, the results transcend the sum of their parts. But that's certainly the case with Robert Forster and Grant McLennan, who began their musical collaboration as teens in the late '70s, tried and failed to achieve chart success in the '80s, split to focus on solo careers in the '90s, and rejoined forces in 2000, to the joy of their avid cult fan base. Their third reunion album, Oceans Apart, continues to mine the lush, literate pop that's defined the Go-Betweens' sound since their inception. The pair's melodies -- largely banged out on chiming acoustic guitars -- have aged gracefully, so that Forster's bouncy, folk-pop nugget "Born to a Family" and McLennan's singsongy "Finding You" sound almost effortless. But the two songwriters excel equally when they wax idiosyncratic, as the sometimes dour-sounding Forster does on the meandering reverie "Darlinghurst Nights," which is laced with unexpected horn interjections, and McLennan does on "Statue," a moody, melancholy song awash in shimmering synths. Clearly, the Go-B's know who's buying their albums, as they've included a live, career-surveying mini-set at album's end that includes Forster's early Dylanesque nugget "People Say" and two of McLennan's most transcendent tunes: the soaring "Bye Bye Pride" and the shoulda-been-a-hit "Streets of Your Town," on which his weathered lead vocals traipse through the song's familiar grooves, surefooted and strong.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
Though it's been two years since Bright Yellow Bright Orange, Oceans Apart is further proof that the Go-Betweens are still a going concern. It is their third recording since reuniting after a 12-year hiatus. The lineup is the same as the last time out: Songwriters and frontmen Robert Forster and Grant McLennan are joined once more by drummer Glenn Thompson, and bassist, keyboardist, and backing vocalist Adele Pickvance. In addition, there is a small wind and brass section on some tracks, and, for a change, no strings. The band dug into its past for this one, bringing in producer Mark Wallis, who helmed the sessions for the classic 16 Lovers Lane in 1988. Oceans Apart sounds very little like its aforementioned predecessor, but that's hardly a problem. Wallis understands the band's subtleties and the textures they like to evoke better than anyone else they've ever worked with. His production is more assertive, but hardly excessive. In fact, he lends the added dimension (he loves keyboards and electronic percussions) the band's records have lacked since their comeback. The set opens with "Here Comes a City," a literary rocker by Forster. Its shimmering, chunka-chunka riff and Forster's vocals feel like a refined, musical nod to the Talking Heads' "Life During Wartime." It's also paranoid, clamoring for an edge it doesn't quite get to, and careens along to an uncertain yet quite arresting end. Things become a bit more characteristic on McLennan's beautiful "Finding You," with its lilting guitars, spare, clean lines, and poetic, emotional lyrics that can open veins with the fine slash of their honesty. The dreamy, pillowy "No Reason to Cry" is among the more elegant songs McLennan has ever composed. Its soulful vocal, chorus, and the way Wallis layers keyboards, vocals, and Forster's distorted lead lines give the lyrics great weight and depth. It's a truly wonderful pop song. The poetry in "Darlinghurst Nights" is some of Forster's more poignant, moving through reverie, grief, and loss. The weave of acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards, drums, and percussion surrounds his voice, pushing it out in front just enough to let his words move toward the listener with enough force to draw her in. In contrast, his "Lavender" touches country music but never goes there. Loops, keyboards, and washes of guitars carry the tune somewhere else as a clarinet wafts in from the margin. Once more, its reverie is in his lyric, with a hint of the previous, as it meets the solitary present, and it's gorgeous. The electronic beats in "The Statue" are a bit jarring until the watery, warm, and luscious keyboards slip underneath subtly, only to be buoyed by a ringing lead-guitar line and McLennan's vocal speaking his desire without flinching. Forster's brief, elegiac "Mountains Near Dellray" closes the set with another sense of place, very different from his opener's. The mood is pastoral as the guitars wind and slip over one another. In addition, early editions of the CD come with a six-track, live EP, recorded at the Barbican in 2004. With its imagination, startling creativity, and sheer pop soul, Oceans Apart is the first great Go-Betweens' record of the 21st century.
Entertainment Weekly - Brian Raftery
Twenty-seven years into their career, they remain one of rock's most pleasurable hand-me-down discoveries. (A-)
Mojo - Andrew Male
Forster and McLennan once again occupy their unique yet complementary worlds.

Product Details

Release Date:
05/03/2005
Label:
Yep Roc Records
UPC:
0634457210523
catalogNumber:
2105
Rank:
40816

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Go-Betweens   Primary Artist
Robert Forster   Organ,Guitar,Piano,Vocals,Melodica,Group Member
Duncan Lamont   Clarinet
Grant McLennan   Guitar,Vocals,Group Member
David Powell   Tuba
Dave Ruffy   Percussion,Keyboards
Glenn Thompson   Guitar,Drums,Keyboards,Background Vocals,Group Member
Adele Pickvance   Bass,Bass Guitar,Keyboards,Background Vocals,Group Member
Trevor Mires   Trombone
Tom Rees-Roberts   Flugelhorn

Technical Credits

Robert Forster   Composer
Grant McLennan   Composer
Dave Ruffy   Producer,Audio Production
Mark Wallis   Producer,Audio Production
Rachel Gutek   Cover Design
Stuart Dayman   Cover Photo
Graham Pilgrim   Engineer
Neil Coombe   Engineer

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