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Luna | Romantica (Jetset)
Whilst Dean Wareham and co have continued to refine their sound since their fine, fine '94 debut 'Bewitched', with 'Romantica' it appears to have been reduced to a formula. The departure of bassist Justin Harwood after '99's only occasionally inspired 'The Days of Our Nights' suggested he too had tired of the ever-narrowing direction Luna seemed powerless to steer clear of. The mysteriously uninvolving 'Live' introduced new member Britta Phillips into the fold, adding some welcome harmony vocals that are particularly effective on rare highlight Mermaid Eyes on this new offering. What 'Romantica' lacks, however, is an ounce of evolution for the band. Chord progressions are uniformly uninspired, both Wareham and foil Sean Eden trading pedestrian 'licks' throughout. Dave Fridman's predictably overblown strings on Black Champagne only further enhance the dullness of the material beneath and even Wareham's usually entertaining lyrics fail to spark. Indeed 'Romantica' contains some of the lamest rhymes of his career; check out "Salt and pepper squid / and Singapore noodles / I could look at your face / For oodles and oodles" or "Talking to your friend / was like talking to a shoe / His hair is stupid blond / his eyes are stupid blue" for evidence of that. Tragica.

Matt Dornan
May-June 2002