• Luna - Penthouse (Beggars Banquet)
  • by Mark Luffman
  • Melody Maker (UK) August 12 1995

Bashful bunch, Luna. Too embarrassed at the success of "Bonnie And Clyde" to actually mention on the sleeve that it's on the plastic. But it is, so don't think you're missing out when the copy of "Penthouse" you're about to buy says it's one track short of a team. It's at the very end, a transfixing suffix to the shimmering splendour of the album proper.

If it sounds less other worldly than it did as a single, that's merely because it's been integrated perfectly into the singular world of Luna, a nearly but not-too-nearly normal world where the Velvet Underground are removed from their violence, Peter Perrett is removed from his drug problem and guest Tom Verlaine is removed from his boho-Jeff-Beck albatross. On "23 minutes In Brussels", all these pieces of magic happen together. Elsewhere, they're spread evenly over the record like gold leaf, giving the nobly no-nonsense songs underneath a luxuriant glimmer.

The key to Luna's particular brand of melancholy - "delirious languor" was a phrase I made up for Moose, but it sits even snugger on Luna's shoulders - is the gaps they leave for you to fill in. They don't dot their Is, don't cross their Ts, don't mind their Ps and Qs. It's familiar grammar with experimental punctuation. But it's unobtrusive; an experimentation that bouys them up rather than bogs them down. Other bands who put theremins and mellotrons and vibes on their sleeves would make damn sure you knew that they were there when you listened.

Luna almost bury the vibes beneath the sublime cascade of "Rhythm King", and the theremin-driven "Sidehow By The Seashore" is a decidedly un-Walter/Wendy Carlos weightless, woozy blues song. It's not often you hear a mellotron played with delicate understatement, but it's not often you're going to hear a song as lorn as "Lost In Space", at least not on any plastic other than this.

But, as Saint Jack knows, comparisons are odious. "Penthouse" is one of those records with its own internal logic, one of those records that, for one delicious moment, shifts your perspective. After playing it, the next dozen records you play, no matter what they are, will all sound strangely WRONG.

Because Luna are strangely right, alright?