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"A singer-songwriter with strong affinities for the boho life, Robert Forster has followed few of the dictates of what others might call a career. In the ’80s. he wrote an essay explaining what products to use on hair as boring as his. He titled a tune “I Love Myself (And I Always Have).” He records when he has enough songs to fill an album, which these days takes a while. About the only rock star thing he’s done in recent years is release a memoir, the most literate of the dozens by artists, boho ancestors included, who have also entered the memoir stage; Forster’s is written, not assembled.

Thirteen years after the death of his musical partner and best friend Grant McLennan put an end to the triumphant second-act return of the Go-Betweens, Inferno finds Robert Forster in a typically reflective mode, but one with a spring in his step. The man who often sang as if he were a library quiet room in human form finally gets caught out. Thanks to Victor Van Vugt (Nick Cave, Beth Orton), Forster’s seventh solo album has a presence and warmth missing from 2015’s emaciated Songs to Play; it’s as if he thought his tunes then were so strong that they required no embellishment. From his wife Karin Bãumler’s violin in “One Bird in the Sky” to Earl Havin’s muted kick drum on manifesto “I’m Gonna Tell It,” Inferno tests Forster’s commitment to rock and roll: he wants it punchy but with folk and classical filigrees too. That’s fine—the Go-Betweens also made a career out of an ambivalent relationship to rock. Inferno won’t sell in the millions. Forster knows it. He sounds chipper anyway, as if saying, “Eh, fuck it.”

If Inferno should become his last record, then he’s circled back to his first: the Go-Betweens’ 1978 “Lee Remick”/“Karen” single, which praised a librarian for introducing him to Genet and Brecht. In those days, Forster came off as a virgin whose songs fashioned the images of the women he sought—the classic learning curve of the heterosexual poet. In Bãumler he’s found a musical and intellectual equal. He opens the record with William Butler Yeats’ poem “Crazy Jane on the Day of Judgement,” set to a shuffling beat and piano lines that lighten an exchange between a woman who desires a love that takes “the whole body and soul” and a would-be male lover who would “scoff and lour” at her demands. Saving all this from preciousness are Bãumler’s keening background vocals: she plays a woman imprisoned by a poetic dude’s presumptions. Her violin also coaxes “Remain,” about Forster’s resolution and independence, into bloom." - Pitchfork (7.7)

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