The Go-Betweens are the ultimate cult favorite among critics and indie rock misanthropes: they’ve been releasing records since the early ’80s, and yet they’ve managed to skirt the surface of public recognition through eight full-length albums. Perhaps Oceans Apart will launch the pair of boys from Brisbane, Australia, into the limelight and out of the depths of a few critics’ top ten lists.
The Go-Betweens dueling singer-songwriters, Robert Foster and Grant McLennan, have been making music since 1978. Their collaboration is as kismet as Lou Barlow and J.Mascis, and has produced the Go-Betweens signature sound; a combination of first-wave British Invasion rock and acoustic folk with erudite lyrics. It’s no wonder bands as diverse as Belle and Sebastian to R.E.M. have sung their praises.
Foster and McLennan parted ways at the end of the ’80s only to reunite at the end of the ’90s. Their first outing post-reunion was 2000’s Friends of Rachel Worth, which featured all three members of Sleater-Kinney. Oceans Apart sounds as if it were penned by a precocious British schoolboy-lyrically, it mixes blue-collar angst with cultured references to Dostoyevsky. It meshes typically Australian bluster with more poetic touches.
The British publication Select summed up the Go-Betweens’ lack of fiscal success back in 1996: “The only problem with listening to The Go-Betweens now is they can’t help but remind you how crap the ’80s were. An example? The Go-Betweens produced records of quiet brilliance and got nowhere. Sting sang about a sodding turtle and became a millionaire.” The Go-Betweens don’t write about any amphibious creatures on Oceans Apart, but hopefully it will lend them a nest egg for when they retire.