Dean Wareham's first-ever solo project, 2013's mini-album Emancipated Hearts, finds the former Luna frontman delivering more of the melodic, psychedelic-tinged pop he has built a career around since his early days with the legendary indie rock band Galaxie 500. In some ways, having been the primary songwriter for most of his bands, Wareham has always been a bit of a solo artist. His songs, which always feature his laid-back, half-lidded vocal delivery; romantic, if often surrealist lyrics, and dreamy, hummable tunes, are practically a genre unto themselves. Of course, as much as Wareham is the auteur of his own musical world, he has always surrounded himself with like-minded collaborators in tune with his vision. He even married his longtime bassist and Dean & Britta musical partner Britta Phillips in 2007. Along with Phillips, Wareham is joined here by drummer Anthony LaMarca who toured with Dean & Britta, as well as indie diva St. Vincent. So it should please longtime Wareham fanatics that Emancipated Hearts, which was produced by the Papercuts frontman Jason Quever, showcases all of Wareham's musical trademarks in abundance. In Quever, Wareham has found a deeply sympathetic producer whose own recordings with the Papercuts displayed his knack for crafting evocative, vintage '60s Baroque- and folk-pop-inspired productions that have an organic, analog sound. This is exactly what he brings to Wareham's material, setting him in what sounds like a large music hall and dressing his songs in layers of ringing guitars, vocal reverb, shimmery keyboards, and a delicate assemblage of viola and violin. A gorgeous showcase that brings together everything you've ever loved about Wareham's music, Emancipated Hearts isn't just a mini-album, it's a minor masterpiece.
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AllMusic Review by Matt Collar