After thirteen years, Luna has decided to call it a day, with Rendezvous and its current farewell tour as the epitaph. With this knowledge, the record takes on a somewhat bittersweet tenor, especially as it epitomizes the band's strengths and flaws. Frontman Dean Wareham maintains his genial, drolly dispassionate warble, but for every bit of inspired sarcasm, there's a painfully cheesy, tossed-off rhyme (We are brown and we are down/We are black and we are slack). Furthermore, he sometimes sings as if he is reading his lyrics off cue cards.
Still, while the band plays at a galloping tempo when it could be rocking out, Luna's glistening two-guitar sound -- displaying infectious Jerry Garcia-style rhythm work, LSD-glazed sustain, and Lou Reed-approved sheets of sound -- is as solid and utterly captivating as ever. And while Rendezvous' first half runs on autopilot (not bad, mind you, just typical), the second half redeems it. "Broken Chair" sets Wareham's soulful, almost Curtis Mayfield-like falsetto against a dreamy, old-school R&B melody, along with languid guitar soloing that would be at home on The White Album's ballads. Even better, the beautiful, lullaby-like closer "Rainbow Babe" echoes the Velvet Underground, but instead of emulating that band like everyone else, Luna uses the VU's minimalist style as a point of departure for a tender, comforting elegy that ultimately sounds like no one else but Luna. All bands should end their careers in such fine style as this.
Seven Days - March 22, 5:57 PM
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