Luna’s seventh album, Rendezvous, will, according to the band, be their last. The band’s career, which has spanned over a decade and seven studio recordings, ends with perhaps the most solid effort yet from these indie-rock veterans.
The album lacks some of the grinding solo-guitar work of Luna’s earlier recordings. But it also lacks the inconsistency found in much of the band’s catalogue, which is mainly composed of albums with at least a few songs that could be cut. The band members have traded in some of their youthful vigor, but they benefit from their experience, putting together a comfortably played and tremendously successful string of songs, representing an unprecedented cohesiveness.
The vocal limitations of Dean Wareham, lead singer and one of the band’s two remaining founding members, seem less apparent on this LP than on previous ones. Instead of straining his voice, Wareham opts for the more relaxed, conversational delivery that has garnered him comparisons to Lou Reed since the late ’80s during his days as Galaxie 500 frontman.
Opener “Malibu Love Nest” is a flat-out gem, characteristic of Luna at its best: poppy but not saccharine, edgy enough to be interesting without sacrificing catchiness. Wareham croons about his urge proclaim a lover’s name: “In the bathroom on the plane/ on the bus, and on a train/ I’ll write your name.”
Some excellent tracks surface, including “Astronaut,” which appears in an earlier incarnation on their most recent EP, 2002’s Close Cover Before Striking, and juxtaposes fast-paced guitars and leisurely vocals. The ensuing track, “Broken Chair,” also stands out as one of the album’s more successful ballads, with gentle and soulful harmonizing between Wareham and bassist Britta Phillips.
But Rendezvous is not an album that relies on crack singles to carry it. Instead it gains its credibility as an album that can be listened to from beginning to end. And although Wareham remains now, as ever, a bit limited lyrically due to his affinity for short rhyming couplets that lend something of a childishness and monotony to the rhythm of his songs, the melodies more than compensate.