» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
The Go-Betweens
Oceans Apart
Yep Rock

Rating: 8/10 ?

May 16, 2005
Often, when a band releases an acoustic or full band version of one of their songs, it's so that music nerds like me will dig through bins to hear another rendition of their favorite standard. Sometimes they measure up, worth the $5.99 EP/B-side sticker price, but they usually nestle in as collectables, perhaps surfacing on a mix CD or finding later prominence in a rarities collection.

But, when a songwriter or group that hasn't functioned in its fullest capacity for years returns to whole form, it's cause for celebration. Bruce Springsteen threw a veritable parade on E Street with The Rising, and on Oceans Apart, the Go-Betweens return to the splendor of their earlier days with a true reunion album.

I'll admit that's a little misleading. The Go-Betweens did get back together in 2000, and this is their third album upon reforming, so this is hardly the jaw-dropping announcement that it was then. However, as the full band gets ready to tour America for the first time since 1989, we find this is precisely the right album to bring that about. Their first two millennial albums, The Friends of Rachel Worth and Bright Yellow, Bright Orange, proved a nice warm-up to this release and did well to whet our appetites for when they'd no doubt hit their former stride.

This is it, folks - this is the Go-Betweens album you've been waiting since the joyous news of their reunion. Oceans Apart captures the lushness of their earlier works, the separate-yet-complementary songwriting beauty of Forster and McLennan and their ability to paint the doldrums in charming pastels.

More than anything, it's the songwriters' points of view that make this such a rich effort. Knowing that their reconvention came from mutual divorce in 2000 - the likes of which made their relationship more treasured and necessarily close - the two have begun living more consciously again, their voices more individual and mature. In a musical landscape where tales of heartbreak can very easily become mundane or garishly emotional, hearing it culled from the personal experiences of such master writers gives it a whole new take. Hurt feelings are not juvenile from such veteran minstrels; they speak of loss, rebuilding and reflection. This is an album of realness and wisdom - the likes of which comes from age not often reached in the chronicles of rock and roll - and every lesson learned from this perspective should be cherished.

This insight comes through most clearly and eloquently on "No Reason to Cry," which recalls a parent affectionately cooing to a child with a skinned knee. As they repeat the track's title, recounting the wounds that have mended from unimaginable pain, they sound loving and humble. Each move toward healing is so fragile and tentative; "No Reason to Cry" shows the momentous courage bred in small steps, and the subtlety of the Go-Betweens has never felt more fitting or sincere.

In other places, they let their fun side shine through, nodding to the fact that good old pop music is what brought them together in the first place. "Born to a Family" is a ramshackle cowboy ballad by way of Billy Bragg, John Lennon and the Stones, and its boisterousness is infectious. "Darlinghurst Nights" and "This Night's For You" evoke the timeframe of their first albums, sounding easily classic and 80s-influenced; Forster and McLennan are no doubt chuckling to themselves about how the scene has come around again. Indeed, by now, they deserve the last laugh.

They do not cower from a harder edge, as heard on the opening single, "Here Comes a City"; they let their remaining bitterness and emotional calluses add to the depth of their sound - nor do they abandon their rainy aesthetic, as seen through the grayish mist of "Finding You" and "The Mountains Near Dellray." As a faint cue of sparkling harpsichord touches the underbelly of "The Statue," the pair is allowed to shine in their most flattering light: that of love, whimsy and hope that cannot be crushed. Through it all, the Go-Betweens are introspective daydreamers - here as much as ever - and that's why we love them in the first place.

Reviewed by Sarah Peters
A former music editor and staff writer for LAS, Sarah Peters recently disappeared. Perhaps one day she will surface again, who knows.

See other reviews by Sarah Peters



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