Three Imaginary Girls

Seattle's Indie-Pop Press – Music Reviews, Film Reviews, and Big Fun

When Grant McLennan, co-founder of The Go-Betweens passed away in May of 2006, it was unclear what direction Robert Forster was going to go. He was reticent for several months before he began playing some shows in Australia and then word got out last year that he was recording a solo album, his first in twelve years. The Evangelist was recorded in London with the rhythm section of The Go-Betweens and the ghost of McLennan just a hair away. It even features three songs that were co-written with him before his death. Considering the circumstance, there is a somber tone to the album and it is one of Forster's strongest group of songs in years.

As anyone would guess, The Evangelist is a rather sad record in many places, but it has that element to it that The Go-Betweens were so incredible at creating, which is exquisite melancholy pop. "Did She Overtake You" is one of the best examples of this. There is a briskly strummed acoustic guitar, scaling bass and subtle misty electric guitar in parts. Forster's voice is great especially as he sings the lines "…or did you play dumb pretending you knew that one day she'd make it without you." It is a beautiful song that gets better with each listen.

"Demon Days" was mostly written by Grant McLennan and Forster finished writing the lyrics prior to recording the track. It is one of those classic empty and yet uplifting songs that the two were so talented at writing together. One can't help thinking about the loss of a great songwriter when Forster vulnerably sings the lines "Something's not right/Something's gone wrong." "From a Ghost Town" is a gorgeous piano led track that is the most direct eulogy to Grant. The weight of bereavement is felt in the slow cadence as elegiac passages are softly sung in remembrance: "I hope I get it right as i go on, as I move on… there's much I'll miss as I go on, as I move on."

This set of songs stands up as well as any of Robert Forster's material with The Go-Betweens since their reformation in 2000. There are touches of The Friends of Rachel Worth, Bright Yellow Bright Orange and Ocean's Apart in the ten songs included in The Evangelist. The songs here are consistently powerful and it is easily his best writing since Rachel Worth. Forster is supposed to be touring the states late in the year, so keep an eye out for that and pick up this album because it won't disappoint.