2002

Dean Wareham is in good voice on 'Romantica', Luna's first studio album since 1999's captivating but patchy 'The Days Of Our Nights'. The only original band-member left, since bassist Justin Harwood returned to his native New Zealand, absences do not seem to have diminished Wareham's ear for a melody. Harwood has been replaced by Britta Phillips and her sweet-toned vocals frequently appear on 'Romantica', emphasising the feeling of languid dreaminess that meanders in and out of songs on the album.

Throughout 'Romantica' Luna wear their influences on a communal sleeve: 'Lovedust' harks back to vintage Go Betweens while the introduction to 'Black Postcards' is a direct lift from REM's 'Radio Song'. The pick of the bunch has to be 'Dizzy' which "borrows" a melody from Van Halen's 'Jump' and juxtaposes it with lyrics about Greek philosopher Diogenes ("In ancient Greece there was a man/lived in a barrel") to produce an oddly joyous sound.

Mixed by the increasingly ubiquitous Dave Fridmann of Gemma Hayes, Sparklehorse and, most notably, Mercury Rev fame, there is a compelling depth and warmth to 'Romantica' which encourages repeat listening. This seventh outing for Luna is one to be savoured as Wareham forges ahead with his unique take on pop.

Caroline Hennessy

Tracklisting: Lovedust - Weird And Woozy - Black Postcards - Black Champagne -Swedish Fish - Renee Is Crying - Mermaid Eyes - 1995 - Rememories - Dizzy - Orange Peel - Romantica