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Dean & Britta
Back Numbers
Rounder Records
www.deanandbritta.com


The music of Dean Wareham, whatever name or guise it may be found under, has always felt very comfortable to me. From the earliest noisy beginnings with Galaxie 500 there has always been magic in everything the man touches. His band Luna was around for a long while and underwent a few transformations that ultimately led to this fantastic new project, a collaboration with later Luna member Britta Phillips. The edgy rawness of Wareham's earlier music is gone, replaced with a serene and sad vibe with a weirdly vague jazzy flavor.

Wareham's songs remain similar in feel and overall texture to his previous works, but the guitars and fuzztones have mostly been replaced by synthesizers and acoustics. This makes for an album of relaxed intentions that perfectly suits the smooth voice of Britta Phillips, and actually seems to agree with Wareham's own sometimes gruff vocalizations. "Singer Sing" is a perfect introduction to this newer, gentler Dean Wareham. Britta's voice floats serenely above a rhythmically synthesized line similar to the great songs on Brian Eno's Wrong Way Up collaboration with John Cale from the early 90's. "Words You Used To Say" shows that Wareham is as laid back and benevolent as ever in his vocals, which meld beautifully with Britta's, similar to the foreshadowing moments of the Luna classic "Bonnie And Clyde". The guitar work in the track is classic echoey Wareham, and the synthesizers are filtered coolly, over crisp drumming. Sonic Boom lends his vibe to the slow groove of "Wait For Me", an underwater-sounding jazzy number that smacks oddly of the old classic "That's Entertainment". The songs never stray far from a laid-back groove while somehow sounding varied and different from each other, as well as from Wareham's previous works. Classic Dean Wareham moments arrive on songs like "Me And My Babies" and "Crystal Blue", while more jazzy flavor fits in nicely on "White Horses". "The Sun Is Still Sunny" finds Britta charmingly singing a modern folk tune beautifully, sounding like some sublime angel of the gutters.

While Back Numbers eschews the more gritty and fuzzy parts of Wareham's previous catalog, it replaces those pieces with a more mature feel that remains easily recognizable. The songs are easy and groovy, without any sharp edges, blending two beautiful voices nicely. Wareham has never sounded better and this new, relaxed approach to music seems to suit him just fine. Back Numbers is sure to be one of the best records of the year, not only for Luna fans, but for those who just appreciate really great laid-back pop music.

-Embo Blake

Track Listing:
1. Singer Sing
2. Words You Used To Say
3. Wait For Me
4. You Turn My Head Around
5. Teen Angel
6. White Horses
7. Me & My Babies
8. Say Goodnight
9. Crystal Blue
10. The Sun Is Still Sunny
11. Our Love Will Still Be There


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