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Back Again After 12 Years

The Go-Betweens
Friends Of Rachel Worth

The Go-Betweens were formed sometime in the year of 1978, when Robert Forester and Grant McLennan decided they would start up a band. After 6 albums over the course of 11 years, they called it quits and headed their seperate directions to work on solo projects. Eventually, they met up again while working on a film script and came to the conclusion that they would try to put together some more music and see what happened.

The Friends Of Rachel Worth is the result of this decision, and instead of falling into the traps that would haunt most bands who took 12 years off, it instead steers completely clear of most problems and not only sounds fresh, but is quite possibly their best album. While most bands would have too much baggage to even pull off such a feat, it's a testament to the duo that the album sounds so effortlessly put-together. Of course, the duo had some help in putting the release together (members of Quasi and Sleater-Kinney provide instrumental support), but the influence of neither group can actually be heard, which is refreshing (although both bands are good in their own respect).

With two distinct writers and styles that vary ever-so-slightly, the 10 songs on The Friends Of Rachel Worth are actually split down the middle on writing duties between the duo. While Grant McLennan tends to write a little more straightforward pop tracks, the ones by Robert Forester go in a few more directions without straying too far off the path. The first two tracks on the release are actually some of the downright catchiest songs on the release. "Magic In Here" is a bubbling little track with plucked guitars and a touch of accordian at the end for just the right feel, while "Spirit" follows it up with a more spare arrangement and vocals that can't help but be sung along with.

On tracks three and four, the group beefs things up the slightest bit with some more fuzz on the guitars, but even "The Clock" only uses them for a bit of an accent in the verse while the chorus turns the track into another lighter, sing-song track. That same style comes through alive and well on the jaunty "Surfing Magazines," with a 'doot-doot' chorus (with the gals from Sleater-Kinney, imagine that!) and guitars that sound like they could have come straight out of an old back to the beach movie.

In the end, the album is a indie-pop disc that has sort of a nice, timeless quality to it. I'd say that the group was influenced by groups in the 70s (and they may have been), but they were also a band at that time, which shows that they still haven't lost their touch. There aren't any big moments of shock on the disc in terms of sound or lyrics, and perhaps that's what makes it so appealing. It's pop that won't make you feel guilty, because these guys aren't packaged or selling anything. They just want to make some music again.

Rating: 7.25