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Groping for Luna2

Luna2

The haunting, subdued bass line that introduces Lunapark, Luna2's excellent debut record, establishes a unique tone--relaxed but urgent, lazy but occasionally frenetic--that persists through 12 songs. The first of those, the endearing "Slide," breaks into a slightly askew half-speed aquatic-guitar trip with a catchy chorus and lyrics of subtle wit. "You can never give/ The finger to the blind," singer-guitarist Dean Wareham sings after an opening guitar solo, "Sometimes I act so stupid/ But you never seem to mind."

Wareham, formerly of the Harvard-bred band Galaxie 500, joins ex-Chills bassist Justin Harwood and drummer Stan Demeski of the late great Feelies to form Luna2--a trio with exceptional musical talent and song writing ability. Their first offering includes a few medium-tempo riff-based gems ("Slide," "Anesthesia," "Crazy People" and "Time to Quit") as well as a pretty attempt at country-rock ("Time"), and some faster beat-driven tunes ("I Can't Wait," "Slash Your Tires" and "Smile").

The disc excels, thanks to Stan Demeski's metronomic precision drumming and hooking fills, Dean Wareham's angelic voice, intriguing guitar lines and lyrics, and Justin Harwood's punchy bass. The sound has elements of the Feelies' best ambient effort--The Good Earth from 1986--and Galaxie 500's dreamy voices and guitars.

But there's not a lot of optimisim to go along with the sweet sounds of Wareham's singing. "Crazy People," a standout on Lunapark, is fueled by a simple 6-note guitar riff, a steady beat and a gripping solo.

Another great song on the album--"Time to Quit"--builds into a super-fast frenzy of guitars and drums and fades out without resolution. Wareham advises the listener to "Forget about your parents/They never cared a bit/ Leave the doctors behind/I think it's time to quit."

Wareham's lyrics are filled with the angst and confusion of his life and his relationships. In "Slide," he sings of his college days: "New England has the foliage/But I'm not coming back." On "Slash Your Tires," the message isn't any happier: "And all your fears/ It's nothing new/And all your tears/ They won't help you." Wareham laments a lot: a past girlfriend in "Time," fake politeness in "Smile," his barren hometown in "Goodbye," a lover he can't satisfy in "Anesthe-

The last song, "We're Both Confused," is themost introspective of the bunch. As its up-tempobeat slowly fades in, Wareman plays a floatingwah-wah guitar line and sings about a woman hecan't get out of his mind: "Things you said lingeron/ Hanging in the air/ And they will not goaway." He turns to his pet for support: "I look atmy dog/ We're both confused/ I love Septemberbest/ And I feel like I should move."

Indeed. Wareman's lyrics--and Luna2'smusic--never really go anywhere. Everything iscomment, preparation, and anxiety. The result,however, is not a selfish Morriseyesque angstfest. Instead, Luna2 has crafted a disc of urgencyand honesty. Lunapark's beauty is that ityearns without whining.Luna2: A artsy Dean Wareman, a spooky JustinHarwood, and a smiley Stan Demeski.

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