Maybe every great band should be forced to spend a decade apart upon completion of its best album. Compulsory semi-retirement wouldn't guarantee a masterpiece for reunited acts, but the Go-Betweens are proof that an Indian summer is no less warm and thrilling for not having been forecast. Three albums into a revival that began in 1999, songwriters Grant McLennan and Robert Forster have equaled -- and maybe topped -- 1988's classic 16 Lovers Lane
with Oceans Apart
, an October heat wave of an album. Apart
is the pair's most unified disc, thematically and otherwise. Forster's songs here, all place and memory, are Proust by way of National Geographic
. His "Here Comes a City" turns an impressionistic narrative about four people on a Frankfurt-bound train into a fast-spinning postcard zoetrope, and his album-closing "The Mountains Near Dellray" is a cameo carved in river rock. McLennan answers with the brief encounter of "Finding You," then maps interiors with "No Reason to Cry" and "This Night's for You." Despite a sound that's never been less than accessible -- lyrical arrangements, timeless chords, plain-spoken songwriting -- the duo has always operated just outside commercial boundaries. With Oceans Apart
, the Go-Betweens settle into middle age communing with an audience rather than pursuing one, and the result is a perfect document of a journey...home.