There’s a jaw dropping scene in Right Here, the documentary detailing the rise, fall and rise of the alt-Fleetwood Mac, the Go-Betweens. Robert Forster and the late Grant McLennan decide it’s time to go solo. Two problems: not only do they fail to discuss this shattering step with the rest of the band, but Grant fails to realise his relationship with fellow band member Amanda Brown has no chance of surviving the nuclear blast level fall-out. The results are savage, but predictable.
Norway’s Remington Super 60 turn things on their head, managing to contain the effect of a (16 year) relationship break-up while keeping the band together. It’s an impressive and civilised approach and I feel slightly uncomfortable picking over the anatomy of a broken relationship, but artists have always faced this conflict between the personal and the private. Let’s not forget, a band with no tension, inside or out, may have to find other ways to make it’s music compelling. And… it’s mentioned in the press release, so I guess that’s a green light. But, to add intrigue only some of the seven songs concern that specific subject.
One song in particular immediately hit me, I Won’t Change My Mind drifts on a bed of Robin Guthrie-esque guitar, bass pressing forward gently, vocals close and intimate as if sharing a confidence, every now and then I hear welcome echoes of a mellower Stina Nordenstam.
In contrast the lyric is almost brutally honest,
‘I tried to tell you but you never understood, but it’s too late now…’
Then note that title…
To describe the resulting music as bittersweet severely underplays the sting of sadness and resignation hanging in the air, but out of pain comes beauty I guess and maybe also acceptance. Don’t get the idea though that this is a sombre listen, instead we’re talking existential reflections set to soundscapes of sensitive beauty. Talk With Me may plead for communication amidst confusion and hurt but musically it’s like bathing in the warmth of the early summer sun and once again remembering how that feels (as Howard Devoto once sang, ‘my skin, remembers’), delicate curlicues of guitar hovering in the background sketching out the melody.
It’s dream-pop in the widest sense, incorporating 60s classicism, subtle 80s textures, tiny hints of country here and there and just a smidgeon of folk, creating the kind of intoxicating mix that leaves you reluctant to remove your headphones.
As long as you can handle the guilt of enjoying art made from heartbreak…