The Go-Betweens: Bright Yellow Bright Orange (JetSet Records)

The songs on the CD flow as delicate sketches with spare detail and touching images.

When the Go-Betweens returned in the new millennium with The Friends of Rachel Worth, they were treated as if they were the musical equivalent of Encino Man—anomalies, from another age found frozen in the ice. They fit well into the trend of bands tapping into retro-post-punk that was starting to form at that time (who better than an original?)

The band formed in Australia in ’78. Over the next 12 years, they released six albums that were popular with critics, college radio DJs, and other musicians. Their influence was immeasurable with all but the buying public. After 12 years, they split up the band and pursued solo careers that never quite added up to the creative mixture that was the Go-Betweens. Grant McLennan and Robert Forster, the backbone of the band, had passable solo careers through the ’90s and sometimes performed together for acoustic shows. These shows proved their following persisted; one show in San Francisco included Sleater-Kinney in the audience. The trio encouraged a reunion and brought together the framework that made the new album possible. The public response, while not earth-shattering, was heartening.

The Go-Betweens’ follow-up, Bright Yellow Bright Orange, is a better package perhaps because it is McLennan and Forster left to themselves, and they rise to the occasion. The songs on the CD flow as delicate sketches with spare detail and touching images. In an age where many bands feel they need to crank the volume to get their point across, the Go-Betweens offer the original template in its own simple perfection.

Standout tracks include “Poison In the Wall,” “Something for Myself,” and “Caroline & I,” which opens the disc. “Caroline” is Forster’s ode to Princess Caroline of Monaco. He and the princess were born in the same year, and Forster sees them almost sharing a linked life and common coming of age. “Crooked Lines” advises us “gotta learn to give, gotta learn to live,” which these songs do with their simple observations and aching honesty. For those of us who paid scant attention in the ’80s and now are struck by this old-band-new, Bright Yellow Bright Orange reveals the wisdom that the Go-Betweens have garnered through their years away. It is rare for a band to offer so much in ten songs.

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