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When bassist Britta Phillips signed on with Luna a few years back, the New York-based indie-rock outfit got a welcome jolt of star power. Phillips’ runway-ready good looks and breathy coo of a voice are the perfect foil for frontman Dean Wareham’s scruffy-hipster demeanornot to mention his sandpaper-dry vocal style. Sure, the man’s slinky guitar runs sometimes feel like genuine come-ons, but Wareham wasn’t exactly born with the gift of gab. On Luna’s last long-player, 2002’s Romantica, his goofy idea of a pickup line involved rhyming “Salt and pepper squid/
And Singapore noodles” with “I could look at your face/For oodles and oodles,” which probably wouldn’t get even Brad Pitt laid. One way around a problem with the words, of course, is to play other people’s songs. L’Avventura, a new Phillips-Wareham side project, wisely features covers of tunes by Buffy Sainte-Marie (“Moonshot”), the Doors (“Indian Summer”), and even Paisley Underground titans Opal (“Hear the Wind Blow”). Aided and abetted throughout by production vet Tony Visconti (he of David Bowie, T. Rex, and, er, Gay Dad fame), Wareham and Phillips serve up a slight but satisfying disc, a jangling collection of bittersweet numbers shot through with Wareham’s crystalline riffing and Phillips’ honey-soaked voice. Phillips shines brightest on her own hazy slow-burnersthe spacey “Out Walking” and the vibraphone-laced “Your Baby.” Yet the very finest thing here is the duo’s straight-faced take on Madonna’s “I Deserve It.” “This girl was meant for me/And I was meant for her,” Wareham intones in his nasally voice, sounding like a cocksure bookworm who’s just won some hottie’s heart. It’s not an original observation, of course. But to judge from Wareham and Phillips’ seductive chemistry, the sentiment is totally apt.Shannon Zimmerman