Songs to Play
Robert Forster was one of two gifted singer-songwriters in the jangly, beloved Australian band The Go-Betweens, which disbanded in 2006 following the death of co-leader Grant McLennan. On his first album in seven years, Forster continues to make witty, melodic pop that etches vivid portraits of everyday people in uncomfortable situations. Songs to Play sets his understated, gently sardonic voice against sleek instrumental textures, adding tart violin (and even a little trumpet) to the usual sprightly electric guitars.
As always, Forster’s inventive tunes offer plenty to chew on, from the breezy “I’m So Happy for You,” which may not be as affirmative as it insists, to the brash “I Love Myself (And I Always Have),” which finds the arrogant narrator proclaiming, “I hold myself in high regard,” adding, “No, I’m not an only child” in the manner of Randy Newman’s more obnoxious characters. Nearly four decades after the debut of The Go-Betweens, Robert Forster remains a smart, sneaky auteur who bears careful observation.