How can you not be in love with the melancholy of Dean & Britta, two key elements to the popular but underrated band, Luna? The pair’s continued collaboration after Luna’s demise in 2005 brings yet another collection of brilliant tunes with their 2nd album together. Their first, a 5-song EP (Words You Used to Say) was released during Luna, and underscores their obvious musical compatibility.
With ethereal vocals from the gorgeous voice of Britta Phillips and the contemplatively sad voice of Dean Wareham (which shares a uniqueness with Thanatos/illegalteenagebikini mainstay, Patrick Ogle – if you haven’t heard of them, I really don’t know why you’re waiting). The style of the two, particularly when Dean is singing, shares a commonality with the spare and lyrical style of Leonard Cohen. All of this makes for an album that is not only excellent but important as well.
Back Numbers is an album that incorporates a bit of melancholic jazz (“Wait For Me”) that would spin David Lynch’s head with potential. Her cover of Lee Hazelwood’s “You Turned My Head Around” is single material, beautiful in her engaging voice that can soar at the drop of a chorus, as it does here. “Me and My Babies,” sung by Dean Wareham in his best song on the album, is an incredible track, relating eerily to the previously mentioned Patrick Ogle of Thanatos and any of Ogle’s work in that band. There is a distinct feel of a bygone era wrapped up in these recordings, making them all the more interesting with their voices of melancholy and their reverbed instruments.
Dean & Britta are, collectively, one of our musical treasures. Back Numbers is not without precedence but in a time where uniqueness is a rarity, Dean & Britta understand so much more than many of their contemporaries. I mourn the end of this album and look forward to their next…already.