The Go-Betweens' 2000 album The Friends Of Rachel Worth marked a welcome return for a pair of amazing songwriters who had experienced few of the artistic highs as solo artists that they had together. Though warmly received by critics and a small core of fans, Rachel Worth felt at times like what it was: the first fruit of a newly re-ignited relationship, created with a backing band of ringers–including members of Sleater-Kinney–that added little. Though never bad, Rachel Worth was rarely engrossing. Bright Yellow Bright Orange, on the other hand, sounds more like an album by the pre-breakup Go-Betweens, in spite of the fact that once again only Grant McLennan and Robert Forster return to claim the name. The two complement each other's singing styles in an almost chemical fashion, but more than that, they keep each other's worst impulses in check: Alone, Forster can get heady and pretentious, and McLennan can be too simple and easy. In keeping with the band's history, the duo split both the singing and songwriting, and on Bright Yellow, they're assisted by a more permanent rhythm section, including bassist Adele Pickvance, whose backing vocals, though spare, are tremendously effective. Bright Yellow almost never reaches the highs of the group's classic early albums, nor does it embarrass itself by straining to duplicate them. Instead, it embraces the voices of two older and wiser songwriters who've still got a spark: "Mrs. Morgan" sounds like a sweet take on "Sweet Jane," "Crooked Lines" might have made adult-pop radio five years ago, and Forster's "Something For Myself" proves that he's still got a snarky side. It's the sound of graceful aging.
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