The Go-Betweens

Send Me a Lullaby

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The first official album from the Go-Betweens, after a slew of earlier recordings and initial singles, was described by Forster and McLennan in later years as sounding like a practice room session, "metallic folk in a way." It's a fair assessment, and certainly while it's the work of a young band, Send Me a Lullaby is still a promising start, showing that the original trio had an aesthetic and the talent to carry its work over an album's length. Another McLennan comment, that it's the 1981 version of the Pixies, is partially accurate -- there's no walls of feedback or screaming, but the songs are short, brisk, angular. The not-so-secret weapon, as one can imagine, is the singing of Forster and McLennan, investing even the sharpest songs and most cutting rhythms (check out the relentless rhythms of the art-funk "The Girls Have Moved") with a sometimes desperate and sometimes withdrawn emotion. At points the vocals are forced, as can also be heard on Very Quick on the Eye, but both are starting to audibly try out other approaches. As musicians, the three definitely had something of that 'metallic folk' thing about them, with Morrison's drumming adding a sometimes brusque but (except for part of "Eight Pictures") never brutal touch to the proceedings that holds up quite well. Forster's guitar work and McLennan's bass are both interesting to hear in context given how much of an influence they would exert in later years. Rather than sounding like they're trying to recodify rock and roll or the like, it's a series of often gentle explorations in restraint, saying more with less. There are definitely more thrashy numbers that live might well have completely rocked out -- "People Know," with its squirrelly guest saxophone from James Freud, is the most likely candidate of all.

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