Dean & Britta

L' Avventura

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The pairing of dream pop godfather Dean Wareham with the voice of Jem from Jem and the Holograms, singer/bassist Britta Phillips, yields a heady mixture of sex, style, and '60s kitsch on the collaborative L'Avventura. A collection of originals and covers, the 11 duets feature the two trading flirtatious come-ons and wistful laments over a deluge of Tony Visconti strings. Unfortunately, they climax on the opening track, leaving an empty bed of ashtrays and broken promises in its wake. "Night Nurse," despite its melodic simplicity, revels in intellectual dirty talk, replacing the standard carnal proposition with the wicked "I am the visitor/You are the host." It's a great single that warrants a great record, or at least a solid EP. Nothing on the record is bad. In fact, if it weren't for the lofty standards set by the opener, the capable tracks that follow would glow much brighter. "Out Walking" and "Knives from Bavaria" give the licorice-throated Phillips a chance to shine, and a spacious cover of the Doors' "Indian Summer" -- Wareham has a fetish for the subject matter, evidenced by Luna's 1993 rendering of the Beat Happening song of the same name -- is lent new credibility by his soft and sinister cadence. There's a classy feel to the whole production, and despite misfires like the Madonna snoozer "I Deserve It," the songs feel like standards for the new jet set. If anything, L'Avventura is evidence that the indie community can age gracefully. [@Double Feature]'s 2008 reissue of the album adds Sonic Boom remixes of three album tracks.]

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