This is another album in our mini-series of old albums that you should probably revisit, or say hello to for the very first time. Our current selection comes from the Australian band The Go-Betweens.
Background information from this album: First off, this is a compilation of some of their best songs from their earlier albums. It’s a good starting point, as it was the place that I first began. The band revolved around the songwriting partnership of Grant McLennan and Robert Forster. They played together, taking breaks, up until 2006, when McLennan passed away.
The closest comparison I can think of when referencing this band is to say that they come off a bit like The Smiths, which isn’t a bad way to begin if you ask me. I think that comparison deals more with the sounds of the vocals; there is a great deal of resemblance to the way Morrissey sings.
However, they don’t have a Johnny Marr, so the angular guitar sounds are a little bit smoother, which allows room for some really solid melodies. For me, it gives a little bit of a folk feel to the traditional eighties dance mixes. The drums, throughout the album, are extremely crisp, accenting every beat perfectly. There isn’t a bad moment from the rhythm section on this album.
Every song on this compilation has something redeemable, and I always listen to this album from the first song to the last. Here are some of my personal favorites:
That Way: This is probably the song I dance to the most in my bedroom all year long. The guitar work is very clean, encouraging you to swing your arms about your body in glee. And the percussion work on this song is ridiculous – every time the kick-drum comes in, I’m taken aback.
Draining the Pool for You: This song is all about seeing through that person you’ve pined after for years, and you come to realize they’re a little less special than you thought. The chorus alone makes this song worth every listen.
The House that Jack Kerouac Built: This song has strings in the background to accompany the bands. For me its a very dark song, which I kind of think is the point, as the lyrics ask “to keep me away from her.” This is what Joy Division could sound like if they were mixed differently.
Streets of Your Town: If you wanted a cheesy song to sing along to at your wedding, I think this is the one for you. It sounds a lot like The Church, which is another great Australian band. Every few words, female vocals come into the background, creating melodious moments of magic. I think this is one of their most popular songs.
There are many more songs on this album worthy of mention, but I don’t want to take up all that space. It’s sad that McLennan passed away because this writing partnership gave the world some of the better moments in music history. If you’ve passed them up, start here. It will get you acquainted with one of indie-rock’s best kept secrets.