Record Review - 1 June 19 2002

Through tragedies and triumphs, the last year will be remembered most for a renewed New York. And from Brooklyn’s post-punk new new wave to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s commemorating the Ramones to the international stroking of the Strokes, ’70s NYC has (once again) become the emblem of modern cool.

What few people seem to remember, however, is that former Galaxie 500 singer/guitarist Dean Wareham and his band, Luna, were ripping off the Velvet Underground and Television years before bands like the Strokes even had their balls drop. Now on its seventh album, Luna still culls much of its inspiration from the hypnotic “failed R&B” strum of Lou Reed’s “Caroline Says,” “Sweet Jane” and “Satellite of Love.” But with the help of producer Gene Holder and the mixing of Dave Fridmann, Luna have added depth without adding weight, creating their breeziest, most relaxed album yet.

Romantica’s warm feel doesn’t rely so much on repetition as past Luna albums have. “Black Postcards” starts out like Out of Time-era R.E.M., while “Dizzy” playfully cribs the melody from Van Halen’s “Jump.” “1995” rawks and “Mermaid Eyes” gently rolls. For the most part, the music doesn’t spiral too far from Luna’s bright guitar chime and sometimes-dark lyrical content. But the multi-dimensional mix makes the fluid licks, buoyant bass and steady drumming sound as fresh and vibrant as a spring fling.

The cover — a picture of a lighter airbrushed with a sunset — says it all: Romantica is an album to sway slowly to with the lights down low. Renew your romance with dreamy pop, New York and perhaps even a tangible somebody, all within the same 45 minutes.

Luna plays the Variety Playhouse Thurs., June 20.??