Send Me A Lullaby
Dave Hill New Musical Express, 26 June 1982
The Go-Betweens, a group to gradually grow into, have actually got buckets of appeal. It's based on qualities which run sharply against a range of current grains, having little to do with parcelling the perimeters of feelings and stitching them into the glossy fabric of an immaculate tune. Rather, the Go-Betweens emerge at a point much nearer feelings at a formative stage. To hear them is to watch a sentiment escape and awkwardly unfold. "Primitive" might be an apt adjective. It describes both the rough beauty of their lyrics, and the way in which they play. The result is finally edgy, poignant, witty, naked and terse. It hurts a bit at first, but you get to like it soon. As they say.
Some detail: the Go-Betweens are three people, Lindy Morrison (drums and one vocal), Grant McLennan (bass and several vocals) and Robert Forster (guitar and most vocals). They come originally from Melbourne, Australia, where (a friend Down Under assures me) they were pretty much ignored. They've been playing for about five years. They were not, however, overlooked by Postcard's Alan Horne, who moved in fast, recognising their mix of cracked rank amateurism and tragi-comic neuroticism as entirely in keeping with his label's attitude and outlook. A single, I Need Two Heads / Stop Before You Say It, appeared in 1980, scoring nicely in the alternative charts. By July '81, the group could be found back home, recording an album in a Sydney studio for an Aussie label Missing Link; an album now licensed to Rough Trade, and, this very week, Waiting For A Lullaby says a big hello-and-nice-to-be-back to the UK.
Maybe I'm forgetting, but this seems the least fussy, least pompous, most natural and moving music I've yet heard from their part of the planet. Lullaby is a raw, rugged record, which leads you by the hand through a land of paradox and fatalism, pain, wry resignation and delightful irony. Example? The enchanting One Thing Can Hold Us:
One thing can hold us / one thing can break us, it's the same thing!
Maybe I'm just daft, but so much that makes their insight and intelligence really work is exemplified in those lines. The Go-Betweens' vulnerability is perfectly foiled by their noise, an identifiably post-Velvets-cum-electric folk amalgam of treble and discord which helps inject a wounding frailty into their often lovely melodies and eccentric rhythmic rambles. Its clumsiness bolsters its confused emotions, its melancholia matches the wonderment and worry. It's also a record of tremendous depth, a mystery to be fathomed. I'm still sorting it out.