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The Forresters | Skindeep (Tom Thumb)
What's the first thing you think of when you play this album, the first release from a newly-formed Australian label? Apart, of course, from the fact that it sounds mightily like Tom Petty distilled through a million jangle-rock influences? That it features Anthony Bautovich, one-time luminary of near-legendary Orange Humble Band? Well, ye-e-es. But there's another thing. Not got it yet? OK, then. Here it is. 'Skindeep' is not produced by Michael Carpenter. There, I've said it. The man who seems to behind everything that comes out of Oz - except, probably their rugby union team, and there again I might be wrong - has nothing to do with The Forresters at all. God, that makes me feel better. Now I can listen to this fine debut without prejudice. For it is a decent record, this, full of light and shade, bursting with great tunes and happy, hooky, singalong choruses - Are You Ready, Rescue Me and Missing You are stone-cold hummers. And, well produced as it is - by the selfsame Bautovich - is doesn't quite have Carpenter's signature studio sheen. 'Skindeep' is alternately polished and rough; indeed a couple of the tracks are greasy in a slide guitar, Stonesy sort of way. Bautovich flings power pop, sub-Byrdsian folk ragas, a touch of George Harris - The Way You Do could have been from the late Beatle's last album - and a bit of sixties easy-listening brass into the melting pot to come up with a sound that, in truth, could really be anyone. That's not to say The Forresters haven't made a good album - this is very lis tenable in a classic, non-threatening way - it's just that there are so many ideas flying around their identity fails to assert itself. I'm sure it will, eventually, when Bautovich decides to strip off the excess fat. Until then, 'Skindeep' will settle nicely into anyone's record collection. Only don't expect it to change the world. Not yet, at least.
CWAS #13 - Autumn 2003