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For most parts of the country, spring is just being sprung. Sure, the cool nights still linger around, but for the most part plants are starting to bloom and the sun is staying in the sky for longer and longer each day. With that in mind, Romantica is being released at the same time that nature is also signaling the return of some springtime lovin'. Lead man Dean Wareham used to make super-fuzzy rock tracks with the rather seminal band Galaxie 500, but this release finds him (and the group) at probably their most poppy to date.

One quick scan through the song titles also reveals a slightly lighter side to the group as well. Wareham wears his heart on his sleeve on tracks like "Lovedust," "Weird And Woozy," and the obvious album-titled "Romantica" (among others) and rather unobtrusive production by Dave Fridmann (who brought groups like Mercury Rev and The Flaming Lips to dizzying heights) that allows the gauzy rock to flow like the Nile. Although the group has been beloved for quite some time, they've also been some rather brutal big-label dealings, so it's pretty refreshing to hear them create something like this.

On "Lovedust," the album mixes some acoustic guitars and a punchy little bassline along with the almost always wistful vocals of Wareham. When the first lines of vocals on the album are "When candles light themselves / And the air turns creamy / Why not take a photograph? / You look so dreamy," it might be easy to dismiss as plain silly, but the group pulls the track off with just the right mix of self-winking and panache to make it work (although the two-part male/female vocal harmony doesn't hurt). Even the slightly less bubbly lyrics of "Black Postcards" ride along with a funky bassline and some rough-edged drumming that turn it into one of the more musically interesting tracks on the disc (mainly because the drums seem to take a backseat for most tracks).

If sex and lovin is one main theme of the album, the other is food. "Renee' Is Crying" starts out with the absolutely goofy lines "Salt and pepper squid / And Singapore noodles / I could look at your face / For oodles and oodles," and instead of being laughable the group makes them downright singalong. Mixing in food metaphors as if he'd been studying Like Water For Chocolate, (or Cibo Matto's Viva La Woman!), Wareham keeps the track moving along with an infectious giddy-ness. Fans of the groups early work might find the album a bit trying at first, but it's still the same old group for the most part (despite changing a few members). Spring is definitely here, and Luna just wants to help you get your swerve on.

Rating: 7.25