Saturday, April 09, 2005

Review: Luna, Rendezvous

After 13 or so years, Luna is apparently calling it quits. I'm not sure if it's out of respect for this great band that many critics have raved about Rendezvous, purportedly their final album, but, alas, I've gotta say I find it pretty weak. The first half of the band's existence was fantastic, a nice mix of Velvety drones and post-R.E.M. murky indie jangle hooks and retro-60s psychedelic grooves, but since their peak with 1995's Penthouse (and 1997's underrated Pup Tent), there's been a real lack of edge to their work. The more catchy pop tunes have been replaced by a languid, sexy groove -- many fine moments to play in the background while popping a bottle of champagne in a dark room, but not a lot of songs you'd be inclined to pay a lot of attention to -- and that same feel pervades much of Rendezvous. That's not to say it isn't a good album; Wareham's Reed-like sung-spoken warble can still captivate, and a few hooks do rise to the surface (i.e. the chipper "Malibu Love Nest," the simple guitar-driven "Buffalo Boots"). And this may appeal more to fans of Wareham's earlier band Galaxie 500 -- like much of that band's work, many of these songs start with a simple, understated verse/chorus structure and then veer into crescendoing trippy guitar raves. Unfortunately, the better moments are diluted by a couple contributions from guitarist Sean Eden; his songs aren't bad, but lack Wareham's distinctive style. Bottom line -- longtime fans will find moments here to love, but casual listeners or newbies should stick with Luna's glory days.


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