Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Goon Sax

  • Up for Anything [Chapter Music, 2016] A-
  • We're Not Talking [Wichita Recordings, 2018] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Up for Anything [Chapter Music, 2016]
My brilliant wife heard Go-Betweens in this high school band well before I learned that Robert Forster's son Louis was a cofounder or that they were "driven" by a female drummer or even that they were Australian. Nah, I told her, though I liked them fine--too crude. And indeed, they're cruder than even the earliest Go-Betweens, who were a university band after all, and somewhat static at their worst. Usually, however, they're charming at least. When Louis fantasizes about a "Boyfriend" or James Harrison hates the "Telephone," it just accentuates the specifically adolescent angst they pin down so much more candidly and affectingly than any other high school band that comes to mind. "If you don't want to hold my sweaty hands / I completely understand"? Pretty mature, in its way. A-

We're Not Talking [Wichita Recordings, 2018]
Although Louis Forster takes fewer leads on this young threesomes's smoother and trickier follow-up, their unpretentious affect, plain guitar, and flat groove still recall the early years of his dad's Go-Betweens. True, Louis reports that he's barely heard them. But I doubt de facto frontman James Harrison was so cautious, and can imagine drummer Riley Jones learning that Lindy Morrison never stepped up to the mike and deciding she'd better: "I don't want distance / When distance always seems to be the thing / That comes and hurts us." In any case, a university art band they're not. Instead they're still reflecting on adolescence with a humility and concentration that hurts. No one's calling but they're not picking up the phone. Passing your bus stop hurts even though they know you need time to yourself. Come to think on it, they "never knew what love meant" anyway. Yet already mortality impends in the form of "piles of books I'll never read / And a list of things I'll never be." Twelve songs in half an hour that say more than they pretend and plenty they may only intuit. A-