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Dean Wareham & Britta Phillips | L'Avventura (Jetset)
Rather than immediately disillusion you with the disappointing reality, this being an uninspired offering from the singer and bassist of Luna, let's briefly entertain the unjustified hype. It's the stunning debut album from the genius behind Galaxie 500, with the woman who provided the voice for animated riot-grrl Jem, of Jem and the Holograms. A 1980s pop-cultural dream team; and a Gainsbourg / Birkin for the new millenium. Nope. It's just a Luna side-project â?? pleasant listening throughout, with few surprises.
The concept is promising â?? a romantic and seductive incarnation of Dream Pop, a collaboration with audible sexual chemistry. And on the first two songs it delivers.
Night Nurse is a fantastic opener. The duo's mischievous interplay is corny yet enjoyable, and the accompanying string section offers a theatrical bombast sorely missing on the remainder of the album. This is followed by Ginger Snaps, a glistening and sugary pop song enriched by amusingly ambiguous flirtation; "You can cut my hair, you can fill my cup..." '
Sadly these standards are not maintained. Threw it Away sounds uncomfortably like Lou Reed, right down to the busily punctuating guitar. There's a decent cover of Random Rules, which, thanks to Dave Berman, is a great song, but the female vocal barely exists and it feels a little out of place. On Your Baby and Out Walking, Phillips sings unaccompanied, and although these are pretty songs, they lack spark, and critically, dialogue; her love is apparently not reciprocated. Their cover of the Doors' Indian Summer is the dullest moment here [the in-joke falls flat]. The insipid lyrics ("I love you the best, better than all the rest"), the lack of Phillips' vocals, and the unchanging instrumentation make this track one to skip.
The album cover is revealing. The couple share a sofa, physically separated by inches, but otherwise miles apart. They look like returning contestants on Blind Date preparing to bitch about a hellish weekend skydiving in Aberdeen. On the basis of the first two songs, this should have been an album of duets, a charming, sleazy, and subversive romantic comedy. Their voices are well-matched and there are flashes of inspiration, but the lack of interplay and exchange on most of the songs make this record rather forgettable.
CWAS #13 - Autumn 2003