Lament, dear reader, the musical stalwarts who were abandoned by their benefactors but never lost their artistic conception. Licking midlife wounds, some of them are healing on indie labels. That's where you'll find New Zealand noise-pop ex-pat and Galaxie 500 co-founder Dean Wareham. Last of the original Lunas, he continues to float toward a vision he'd always seen downstream, rolling out guitar jams more sweet than sour, hiding the bitterness deeply in the candy jar of melodies. At times, not so deeply: On "Black Postcards," a defeatist manifesto that's one of the standouts on the band's latest, Romantica, Wareham repeatedly sighs, "If I had to do it all again, I wouldn't."
Who can blame him? Pop is a game of the young and the new. And though Wareham still commands his creative powers a full decade into a second band, Luna has long become a period piece that, for all its loveliness, is as frozen as a psychedelic butterfly in amber. The grand mix Flaming Lips producer Dave Fridmann coats Romantica in simply seals both sides of this deal. Whether in the Spectorian girl-group pomp of "Mermaid Eyes," a pretty duet between Wareham and bassist Britta Phillips, or in the slack-key-sounding guitars that twinkle like constellations behind Wareham's hushed voice on "Lovedust," the beauty involved is another generation's beauty, when the laments were part of the attraction.