Brisbane, 1977: Two friends, Robert Forster and Grant McLennan, form the Go-Betweens as an outlet for the former’s songs, which he will later describe as “Lovin’ Spoonful meets Television.” Within a few years, McLennan begins writing, the band relocates to London, and both the sound and McLennan’s melodies get bigger. The Go-Betweens grow to five members for their last two albums, on which lush McLennan tunes such as “Right Here” and “Streets of Your Town” upstage Forster’s sparer compositions. 1988’s 16 Lovers Lane is the quintet’s final testament. Brisbane, 2002: The reunited Forster and McLennan, who have slowly made their way home to Australia, record the second album of their second run as the Go-Betweens. Indeed, Bright Yellow Bright Orange is a return to form in many ways—it’s tidier and more sweetly orchestrated than 2000’s The Friends of Rachel Worth, which was recorded with such non-‘Tweens as members of Sleater-Kinney and Quasi. The album even reinstates the enigmatic Go-Betweens tradition of having two L’s in the title. (Rachel Worth is the only one that doesn’t.) As in the late ’80s, the two musicians divide the realm exactly: five songs by each. The result is parity but not equality, because McLennan’s songwriting skills have waned. As on Rachel Worth, his tunes suffer from lazy rhymes, shallow sentiments—the new album hits bottom with the “Gotta learn to give/Gotta learn to live” refrain of “Crooked Lines”—and a scarcity of catchy melodies. McLennan’s strongest contribution is “Old Mexico,” which contrasts a sweeping chorus with a lanky guitar line that recalls the CBGB’s bands that inspired the ‘Tweens early work. Neatly, the song segues into Forster’s “Make Her Day,” which opens with a riff of similar provenance. But Television and Talking Heads aren’t the only inspiration for such Forster gems as “Caroline & I” and “Too Much of One Thing,” which also draw on folk, country, and the Monkees. “You might think you see purpose,” he sings on the latter, “but what you’re seeing is a band.” It’s hard not to wish you weren’t: A few more songs as good as this and Bright Yellow Bright Orange might be as appealing as, well, a Robert Forster solo album. —Mark Jenkins