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Britta Philips And Dean Wareham

While garage rock seems to still be grabbing the headlines for its overblown (having worn out its welcome a long time ago) revival, the true resurrgence seems to be that of pop music in the traditionally anti-pop indie world. Granted, most bands still aren't churning out radio-slick albums that can go head to head with the top 40 bubblegummers, but there have been many bands injecting the hooks and melodies into their tracks and coming out the better for it. L'Avventura is the collaboration between Luna guitarist Dean Wareham and bassist Britta Philips, and unlike the aforementioned, it's as soft and slick as they come.

Unlike the band in which they both sing and play instruments, this release is the saccarin offshoot. It's a soft pop output full of strings, soft drums, and girl-boy harmonies in songs about falling in love. In other words, it's a short release that is seemingly created exactly for the onset of spring and summer. A batch of 11 tracks, about half of which are covers, it ocassionally touches on regret and heartache, but is mainly a showcase for the duo to toy with one another in song and take along the listener along for the ride.

The disc opens with two of the fluffiest moments on the release with "Night Nurse" and "Ginger Snaps." The Wareham-penned former track finds vocals by Wareham and Philips floating over glossy strings and twinkling keyboards while the latter is again content to float by on a wave of synths, chimes, and twangy guitars while the duo again trade off breathy vocal duties. Interestingly enough, one of the harder tracks (which is a relative term give the overall sound of the release) on the album is a cover of Madonna's "I Deserve It," which is turned into sort of a dusty-road alt-country track with a slight slather of distortion on the guitar and an almost giddy-up rhythm.

From there, the album slows down for a bit. "Out Walking" finds Philips taking over vocal duties for the entire track, and the result is a track that sounds like a slightly lighter Mazzy Star. One of the best tracks on the release is the cover of "Moonshot," a song written by Native American folksinger Buffy St. Marie. The track is best when kept in a more stripped-down state, but even the flourishes of strings don't completely highjack the more touching feel.

Elsewhere, "Knives From Bavaria" adds some subtle programmed beats and vibraphone for one of the more musically adventurous tracks on the album, while "Indian Summer" closes out the release with a cover of the Doors, replacing the everprescent suitcase bass with a Juno and adding some other nice touches like a Djembe and swells of guitar. After the pure pop opening tracks, the disc settles down into something much more interesting than what could be expected. Some of the tracks still push into the glossy orchestral pop area, but as mentioned above, there are also some tracks that jump away from what you might expect from the duo. If you're a fan of the more recent releases by Luna (like Romantica and Close Cover Before Striking), you definitely won't go wrong here. It doesn't travel any really adventurous ground, but it's a solid little entry for hot weather.

Rating: 6.75