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Bright Yellow Bright Orange

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Album Review

Fans of the Go-Betweens were happily amazed when Robert Forster and Grant McLennan reunited after 12 years and began recording again. This is the second product of their hopefully long-lived reunion. Recording in its native Australia, the duo added bassist and vocalist Adele Pickvance and drummer Glenn Thompson to the band for 2003's Bright Yellow Bright Orange. All the hallmarks of a great Go-Betweens record are here: memorable melodies, wry and literate (in Forster's case, literary) lyrics, Forster's dramatic vocals, and McLennan's sweet croon. It is indeed a great record, but falls just short of being a great Go-Betweens record. Bright Yellow Bright Orange lacks some of the energy and excitement that Friends of Rachel Worth (and some of the earlier records) had. That record had the thrill of rediscovery in its favor; this album feels more like Forster and McLennan are settling comfortably into their partnership. The tempos are relaxed, the melodies easy to hum along with and underpinned with strummed acoustic guitars, the music very straightforward and steady, and the lyrics almost sentimental. A larger number of tracks than usual feature lush background vocals; Pickvance picks up where the sorely missed Amanda Brown left off and provides timely harmonies. McLennan's tracks sound particularly mellow: "Mrs. Morgan" is a gently propulsive strum-pop gem, "Crooked Lines" is a ballad with lovely vocals by Pickvance, and "Unfinished Business" is a brief, achingly pretty, piano-based ballad that ends the record on a strong note. Forster's contributions are more dramatic: the near spoken word track "In Her Diary," an unsparing look at a lonely life; the country ballad "Too Much of One Thing"; and the hard-rocking "Make Her Day," with some very nontypical distorted guitar. Album highlight "Old Mexico" pulls off the rare feat of featuring Forster and McLennan sharing vocal duties. It is an instant classic, the pounding beat and staccato vocals of the verses giving way to the lush chorus that is vaguely and pleasantly reminiscent of "Bachelor Kisses." Go-Betweens fans should be very happy with Bright Yellow Bright Orange and glad the band decided to stay together and continue to make smart, exciting adult pop music.


Formed: 1978 in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '00s

The Go-Betweens were perhaps the quintessential cult band of the '80s: they came from an exotic locale (Brisbane, Australia), moved to a major recording center (in their case, London) in a sustained bid to make a career out of music, released album after album of music seemingly tailor-made for the radio in spite of their having little use for contemporary Top 40 musical/lyrical formulas, and earned considerable critical praise and a small but fervent international fan base. Although the Go-Betweens...
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