It’s so rare these days to see a band end its career on a high note. Whether it’s drugs, death, internal strife or just the inability to know when to throw in the towel and call it quits, music groups have a habit of leaving too early or sticking around past their expiration dates.
Unlike so many who came before, indie-pop’s favorite sons and daughter, Luna, understand that after 13 years, it’s their time to go. While all six of their previous records have been nothing short of brilliant, they’ve sounded pretty much the same. And to push it much further is to risk sounding stale.
What’s differentiated Luna from other dream-pop groups over the years is that they recognize that there needs to be more than just atmosphere. Unlike their counterparts, Luna built their sound on catchy melodies rather than pure ambiance. They combined layers of sound and churning Velvet Underground-inspired guitar riffs with Dean Wareham’s delicate and airy vocals and pop hooks to create a truly unique style.
Wisely, Luna stick to this formula on their seventh and final album, Rendezvous. From the chugging opener “Malibu Love Nest” straight through to the end, the band proves that it’s still in top form. Wareham’s voice is as affecting as ever and his lyrics are still evocative of young love and warm summer nights while remaining clever and witty. On standout track “Astronaut,” he tells his fictional lover, “I want to plug you in / I want to get you things / Send you a pentagram / Feed you diazepam.”
While Rendezvous is far from being an earth-shattering record, it does exactly what it sets out to do, which is cap off the career of one of the most talented yet unsung groups of the past 20 years. The group foregoes labored farewells and nostalgic longings and do what it has done for the past decade, which is deliver a handful of finely tuned pop songs. If they sound at all wistful, it’s because they’ve always sounded wistful. Only in fleeting moments does Wareham reference this as the end. They close out their album with the slow and somber “Rainbow Babe,” which by no coincidence sounds eerily similar to “Goodbye,” from their 1992 debut Lunapark. “Rainbow Babe” opens with the reflective line “Souvenir, soft and sweet,” and from there it drifts off into an oblivion of ringing guitars and slow, soft drums.
Luna will no doubt be missed by their small yet loyal following, but Rendezvous serves as a fitting end to a wonderful career. From the sound of it, the band probably has another few solid records in them, but in the end maybe it’s best to quit while you’re ahead. After all, it’s better to burn out than fade away.