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The Go-Betweens | The Friends Of Rachel Worth (Circus Records)
Opening your comeback album with a track called Magic In Here might seem presump-tuous, but as this is the Go-Betweens you know it's more like a promise. And indeed it is, as you'd expect when Grant McLennan and Robert Forster re-unite, twelve years since their last album (here augmented by Sleater-Kinney). The gentle acoustic numbers cast their spell, but the true sorcery is revealed on the heavier numbers, such as The Clock, where the Portland girls power the tunes along, giving an edge to the boys distinctive vocal styles - Grant's melodic lilt and Robert's semi-narrative. It is, perhaps, Robert who lets the side down. His lyrics seem jokey and his delivery slightly camp, almost reducing Surfing Magazines to Half Man Half Biscuit outtake status. The album is soon back on track with Orpheus Beach which broods and simmers as guitars and voices swirl in harmony. Any notion that the S-K girls are there just to add noise is dispelled in Going Blind which has their signature choppy guitar style to the fore and their vocals nudging Grant's almost out the door. Most of Robert's faults can be forgiven once you hear When She Sang About Angels where he rhymes Kurt Cobain and Tom Verlaine, although what would Patti Smith think of this tribute? All in all, twelve years is a long time to wait for ten tracks and it's only the girls who give it any real coherency of a band project, but it's great to have the lads back together again, let's just hope they pull their fingers out for the next one.
CWAS #6 - Autumn 2000