Everyone just chill out. After a thirteen-year recording hiatus indie rock guitar slingers Luna are back with their first offering of new material since 2004’s Rendezvous. Available for purchase this past Friday via Double Feature records, the full-length LP of covers – A Sentimental Education – and its accompanying EP of original instrumentals – A Place of Greater Safety – are sure to satiate even the most jaded of Luna fans.
With the aptly entitled A Sentimental Education the newly reformed Luna take the opportunity to tip their hats to an array of artists from the seventies and eighties, paying homage with covers of deep cuts from bands that range from obvious influences (The Velvet Underground, David Bowie) to the obscure (Mink Deville, Mercury Rev).
The album opens with the standout number “Fire In Cairo”, a well selected pick from The Cure’s 1979 debut release Three Imaginary Boys. Like most all the tracks off A Sentimental Education “Fire in Cairo” remains true to its predecessor while receiving just enough of a Luna makeover to deem it new. The tense feel of the original is toned way down as Luna opts for a soft, subtle drum track instead of the jittery, snare-heavy percussion of The Cure while the desperate and angsty vocals of a young Robert Smith are replaced by frontman Dean Wareham’s nonchalant, Lou Reed-esque delivery.
The lulling atmospheric pop of “Gin”, a track written by former Velvet Underground keyboardist Willie “Loco” Alexander, follows and seems a perfect fit for the foursome as they re-create the synth-saturated mood of Alexander’s 1980 recording with some fine guitar work and vocal harmonies. The Velvets get a second nod with “Friends”, a cut from 1973’s Squeeze, before Fleetwood Mac receives the Luna treatment with a cut from the group’s early days – “One Together”. The intertwining high lonesome guitar licks of their take on Bob Dylan’s “Most of the Time” make it quite possibly the strongest track on the ten-song LP, and A Sentimental Education rounds out nicely with “Car Wash Hair”, a song originally recorded by yet another New York-based band Mercury Rev.
With the sister EP A Place of Greater Safety Luna show off their chops, conjuring up six dreamy tunes dynamic and complex enough to easily stand on their own without vocal accompaniment. The first track “GTX3”, with its relaxed, surfy vibe, chiming guitars, and bouncy bass line, brings to mind Californian bands like The Donkeys while the celestial spaghetti western number “Around and Around” could be mistaken for an Israel Nash instrumental.
Even though it’s been well over a decade since Luna last made a record, after listening to A Sentimental Education and A Place of Greater Safety you can hardly tell so much time has passed. Let’s all hope that this is a sign of more good things to come in the near future from this talented group.