Rock & Pop: New Releases - L'Avventura

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The origins of L'Avventura are probably traceable to the American indie outfit Luna's 1995 album Penthouse, specifically to a cover of Serge Gainsbourg's "Bonnie and Clyde" on which Stereolab's Laetitia Sadier played Jane Birkin to Dean Wareham's Gainsbourg. The same quirky sexual chemistry has been extended to album length here, with Wareham's fellow Luna-tic Britta Phillips replacing Sadier on a series of inscrutable original love songs and idiosyncratic covers of such material as The Doors' "Indian Summer", Madonna's "I Deserve It" (re-imagined as fuzz-chord indie-pop), and Buffy Saint Marie's "Moonshot", whose lovely, resigned melody fits the duo's vocal style perfectly, Wareham's slightly sinister awkwardness and Phillips' gamine elegance recalling the combination of innocence and experience in Gainsbourg and Birkin. The secret weapon is the producer Tony Visconti, who has devised ingenious combinations of glittering guitars, droning keyboards, mellotron, vibes, and the tenderest of string arrangements. Wareham's "Night Nurse" and "Ginger Snaps" are the most engaging pieces here, their sultry candy-pop settings studded by striking, playful rhymes such as "You are the treacle in my pie/ You are the splinter in my eye" and "When the cowboy sings/ When the Saturn rings". An understated, unexpected delight.

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On Fire 30 CD sleeve (design: John Conley)
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