Nearly four years ago, I wrote a very favorable review of the last album from Robert Forster. And while I'm here to write a similar one today for his new album, Inferno, out Friday via Tapete, I'm also likely to downplay Forster's past in The Go-Betweens this time out.
Back in 2015, it felt like he was (at least at times), writing songs that could have been ones that he could have performed with Grant McLennan. And while that's high praise, this time out it feels like Forster's back to making a variation of his fine solo debut from 1990, Danger in the Past. And that is meant as an enormous compliment to the man who remains one of the best songwriters of the entire post-punk era.
Inferno is an intimate record, but it's also a tuneful one, with bits of folk-rock and chamber pop sprinkled throughout its grooves. And while something lyrical like "The Morning" feels simple and perfect, there's also stuff here like "Inferno (Brisbane in Summer)" that sounds a whole lot like "Hang On To Yourself" with some "All The Way From Memphis"-piano carrying it forward. It's a rambunctious bit of business and one of the best solo compositions Robert's ever cranked out, as far as this fan is concerned.
Elsewhere, "Crazy Jane on the Day of Judgement" feels like the sort of thing Van Morrison could have continued to make in the mid-Seventies, Forster's vocals here also recalling classic offerings from Leonard Cohen. And if that one is a bit intense, the near-Bossa nova of the (perhaps) autobiographical "Life Has Turned a Page" is splendid, Forster letting his words hanging in the air deliciously. "I'll Look After You" is the one track here that feels like a Go-Betweens song, like something off of side 2 of Tallulah. And to say that is not to diminish the other numbers on Inferno but, rather, to indicate how comfortable he sounds here as a solo artist in allowing this one in to mingle next to his fine recent compositions.
Inferno is out on Friday via Tapete Records.
More details on Robert Forster via his official Facebook page.
[Photo: Bleddyn Butcher]