Luna: Romantica (Jetset)

Playfulness is most important on Luna CDs.

Romantica is a fine example of what happens when you finally let yourself go and listen to your inner voices. In this case, they are Dean Wareham’s inner voices and they are not only fun, but very sharp and intuitive. Luna has been struggling for years with a deviant sophomore curse that attached itself after their third album and didn’t go away ’til this, its sixth (told you it was deviant.) In the time since, they have been cut from one label and shuttled around through two more records till finally finding a home at Jetset. They also lost longtime bassist Justin Harwood, who went off to raise a family, and replaced him with Britta Phillips. Romantica certainly breaks the slump. It is easily as good as Penthouse and, in several areas, better.

From the beginning you hear a playfulness that was missing on The Days of Our Nights. Playfulness is most important on Luna CDs. Dean Wareham and Sean Eden write some great lyrics—lots of wordplay (“I kissed you with my rabbit foot, I made your orange peel”) and visually distinct lines (“venetian blinds are slicing up the sun, and the buttons in my mind have come undone”). Romantica has a great opening song with “Lovedust.” Bouncy, even somewhat sweet, it succeeds because it sounds so naïve, but it sounds so familiar. It captures the feeling of being adrift in love, or just finding another like yourself. Another great song (and there are many) is “Black Champagne.” This time it is love lost and our fate as we get older. The song captures the feelings so exactly and the melancholy in the song balances perfectly to a mood that is not so bitter as it is accepting. Finally, there is “Mermaid Eyes,” which features Phillips singing a duet with Wareham. Her voice is a great match for his and one can only hope that they will repeat this on future records. Phillips has that chanteuse coo down perfect (and the looks as well, if their recent concert is any example) and she provides a soft pillow to Wareham’s more-often-than-not hard edges.

With each play, this new album climbs up my “best of” list. It is solid from beginning to end, and it sticks in my mind. It is also the first Luna CD to come with a lyric sheet, so we can all sing along. It is unfortunate that Luna had to go through some bad years, but the payoff is a fine album, a strong band, and hopefully a new home that will appreciate the talent they have.

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