Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Story of Galaxie 500 / Luna / Dean & Britta [2012]



This debut album by Luna is a delightfully low-key affair that should greatly appeal to fans of Wareham’s former band, Galaxie 500, though there are definitely differences between the two bands.
Luna had actually been credited as Luna2 on Lunapark due to some new age musician who went by that name, but after paying her off the band, now officially named Luna, released the Slide EP before delivering Bewitched, the band’s first full-length album as a four piece, new guitarist Sean Eden having been recruited via an ad in the Village Voice.
Whereas Lunapark was mostly laid-back, it sounds almost jaunty by comparison to Bewitched, whose gently melodic, subtly understated songs are consistently strong, consistency being Wareham's calling card above all else. Though its dreamy, melancholic ambiance makes Bewitched work as an actual album, there’s no denying that its first two songs are the standouts, as "California (All the Way)" has a nice relaxing riff and is an unassuming winner in the band’s best style, while “Tiger Lily” is a multi-tracked delight bolstered by a simple but irresistible low-key groove.
Penthouse was another winner that gets better the more you get to know it. In fact, I think that the common consensus is that this is Luna's best album, and I certainly wouldn't dispute that assessment. Much has been made of the obvious debt the band owes to The Velvet Underground, but here another equally important influence is made apparent, with Television's Tom Verlaine providing guitar help on "Moon Palace" and "23 Minutes In Brussels," two of the album's most impressive tracks in large part due to his singular presence.
Pup Tent is a little tougher to embrace than previous albums, as several songs run a little long and the album is more abstract and less memorable on the whole.
After being dumped by Elektra and eventually picked up by Jericho, Luna returned with this wordily titled (for them) album, which seems to have received the most lukewarm reviews among the band's records. I can see why, as some of the band's melodies seem awfully familiar at this point, and there's also some validity to All Music Guide reviewer Sanz Lashley's complaint about the "the lack of emotional nuance in the vocals."
Dean's recent divorce is probably the impetus for weary, bitter lyrics like "I'm tired of having no future, and I'm tired of pushing my luck" and "let me tell you about the agony of love," but hindsight is 20/20 and we all know now that he fell in love with bassist Britta, whose airy, honey voiced backing vocals greatly enhance standout tracks like "Weird and Woozy" and "Renee Is Crying," plus the two also duet on "Mermaid Eyes," another winning entry.
 Rendezvous starts extremely strong with fast-paced highlights such as "Malibu Love Nest," "Speedbumps," and "Astronaut" (the latter remade from a previous EP, Close Cover Before Striking), all of which show off the band's melodic gifts and impressive dual guitar interplay. ± sfloman



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