With their intelligent lyrics and sophisticated pop jangle, the Go-Betweens have always made it seem cool to be grown up. Without resorting to navel-baring exhibitionism or angry punk theatrics, the Australian band simultaneously exudes sex appeal and a subtle sadness. The combination of polished craftsmanship and visual interest -- artwork from 1988's 16 Lovers Lane featured vocalists/guitarists Grant McLennan and Robert Forster in meditative repose and former drummer Lindy Morrison draped in black satin like an ersatz Greek goddess -- made the group irresistible.
On bright yellow bright orange, McLennan and Forster are joined by versatile musicians Adele Pickvance and Glenn Thompson, as well as a full string section. The two longtime collaborators still handle all songwriting duties, however, and it's clear that the album's familiar elements -- romantic angst, jewel-toned guitars, concise songs about people yearning to grow -- reflect their personal vision.
Revisiting the shimmering, moody vein mined on 2000's unexpected comeback album The Friends of Rachel Worth (which featured Sleater-Kinney as backup band), bright yellow bright orange highlights what the Go-Betweens do best: craft thoughtful, accessible guitar pop. With its level, conversational vocals, the buoyant "Caroline and I" conjures visions of Lou Reed and could be a cousin to his "Caroline Says." The lovely "Mrs. Morgan" also brings to mind the croaking Raven auteur; its stately opening guitar strongly resembles that of Reed's "Sweet Jane." "Poison in the Walls" uses a deceptively simple melody to hide its venom and disappointment, while in "Too Much of One Thing," a propulsive, Dylanesque acoustic guitar delivers us to some typically opaque Go-Betweens lyrics: "Breathe low my scented lover/Bottles and vials, potions and pills/I could carve you from memory/Then carry you through these hills." Comforting and instantly familiar yet elusive enough to keep you wondering, bright yellow bright orange is painted from a winsome palette.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Denver, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.