Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express, Tallulah and 16 Lovers Lane reissues
Jet Set Records
Latter-day work from Aussies gives insight to a band caught between greatness and playlists.
Bookish Brisbane introverts just out of university, Robert Forster and Grant McLennan started the Go-Betweens in 1977, singing catchy songs about arthouse cinema as much, if not more, than singing pining love letters to unattainable girls. The band moved to London and wrote three literate pop albums leading up to these three works, Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express, Tallulah and 16 Lovers Lane. Liberty Belle is the 10-song ode to the absurdity, exuberance and frustrations on which bookish, love-smitten musicians thrive. Leading the album, "Spring Rain" is a Forster-penned burst of nostalgia that careens through the three most cathartic, perfect minutes of music of 1986. The nine songs that follow hover between sprinting pop and moody balladry. These are blurred snapshots of a band that has not yet realized the commercial possibilities of being in full swing. Tallulah and 16 Lovers Lane, the band's weakest, sound more preoccupied with breaking charts than hearts. Although awkward, muddled albums, they also contain some of the clearest moments of Forster and McLennan's songwriting. "The House Jack Kerouac Built" and "Dive for Your Memory" are the most articulated underdog laments. "Bye Bye Pride" and "Streets of Your Town" are both grabs at radio-playlists. These three reissues reveal the Go-Betweens as a band in struggle. What these reissues reaffirm, though, is that the flaws and musical twisted ankles of the Go-Betweens' wobbling discography make them impossible not to fall in love with. (Richard Shirk)
Jimmy Eat World
More like Jimmy Puke World. Or, no. Jimmy Eat Crap. Zing!
Jimmy Eat World is breaking my heart. Its 1999 pop gem, Clarity, promised great albums to come, but even the follow-up, Bleed American, turned out to be a guilty pleasure. And even if the band recovers from its downward spiral into Top 40 crap-pop and write some decent music, the disappointment of Futures will stick. The title track--a fine theme song for Kerry ("I always believed in futures/ I hope for better in November")--is just plain bad. Perhaps it's that Mark Trombino, the man responsible for the super-produced brilliance of Clarity, is absent on this album, but it seems leadman Jim Adkins has also run out things to say. The airy acoustic riffs and "whoa-oh-ohs," on "Kill" simultaneously rip off both "Sweetness" and "Your House" from Bleed American, while "Drugs or Me," a painfully long ballad about a substance-abusing loved one, comes off like a trite first draft from freshman poetry class. The abruptly hard-rocking "Nothingwrong" is further worsened by Adkins trying to sound tough, which is just absurd coming from a guy whose lyrics might as well be motivational speeches. Yeah, Jimmy Eat World broke my heart, but I guess I'm guilty, too, cause I'll still be at the Crystal Ballroom come Nov. 3, desperately seeking a moment of Clarity. (Amy McCullough)
Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express, Tallulah and 16 Lovers Lane will be released Tuesday, Nov. 9
Jimmy Eat World plays with Recover and A Thorn in Every Heart Wednesday, Nov. 3, at the Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside St., 225-0047. 9 pm. $20 advance, $22 day of show. All ages.