Britta Phillips & Dean Wareham: L'Avventura

Britta Phillips & Dean Wareham: L'Avventura

Dean Wareham has always been willing to perform other people's songs, and it's a testament to his deadpan charm that his cover versions (from New Order's "Ceremony" to Guns N' Roses' "Sweet Child O' Mine") always bear his dry mark. But in all of his years as singer-guitarist for Galaxie 500 and Luna, Wareham has rarely been called sultry or suave: Part of his modus operandi is aloof coolness, and he's skilled at it. Maybe that's why he's fascinated with guys like French pop lech Serge Gainsbourg and debonair cowboy Lee Hazlewood, smooth songwriters and smoother gentlemen who always had a chanteuse or two hanging around. Now Wareham's got one, too: recent Luna addition Britta Phillips, an excellent bassist whose résumé includes rocking (in Belltower and Ultrababyfat), acting (in the cheesy Justine Bateman vehicle Satisfaction), and cartoons (as the singing voice of Jem, of Jem And The Holograms fame). Together with producer Tony Visconti, who gained recognition working with David Bowie and T. Rex in the '70s, Phillips and Wareham indulge in more than a bit of suavity on L'Avventura. On paper, the album sounds like more of a lark than it is: In terms of production, it rivals any Luna disc, and since it's a one-off, it's freer to roam outside the band's sound. Wareham and Phillips are joined by a string quartet for much of the disc, which gives their originals the swirling sound of classic '60s pop. "Night Nurse," L'Avventura's most fetching duet, is filled with silly, Pillow Talk-ish innuendo like "You make the ice melt, the butter run," which is just cheeky enough to be fun. The selection of covers reveals a weird, wild record collection, but since the whole spectrum–from Madonna to Buffy St. Marie to Silver Jews to The Doors–is run through the duo's smooth, mellow filter, it invariably flows. As its title suggests, L'Avventura allows Phillips and Wareham the chance to explore a bit, sounding more suave and less arch than their main band. And though it may be a trifle, particularly to casual Luna fans, it's an undeniably pleasant one.

Filed Under: Music

More Music Review