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been replaced by synthesizers and acoustics.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.
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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