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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.

While Forster’s last album, Songs to Play, was recorded close to his home patch in the hills west of Brisbane, for Inferno he escaped to Berlin, where he recorded his first solo album, Danger in the Past, in 1990. And where Songs to Play featured a drier sound and coiled, latent energy, Inferno, produced by Victor Van Vugt, is lush and tropical, and it moves at a slightly more languid pace.

Inferno is among Forster’s strongest collections. Its songs are delivered with wry wit, subtle yet biting insight, and unpretentious poetic language. Combined with elegant, understated melodies that intuit rather than insist, this is a set of tunes that affirms life with earthy wisdom, vulnerability, and steely determination.