Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Luna - Dear Diary

Luna - "Dear Diary"

"We made an album called The Days of Our Nights. Our fifth studio album, it is possibly the worst of the seven that Luna made...

Of course, my least favorite song, 'Dear Diary,' was picked as the single. I came to hate singing "Dear Diary." The stupid "baa-baa" section. The bad lyric -- 'then you blew my mind.' I hated that lyric. It was one of those things that comes out of your mouth when you're singing gibberish, before you've written the lyrics proper. But then you find it's a phrase that you are incapable of replacing. You're stuck with it." -- Dean Wareham in Black Postcards

The Days of Our Nights was the first Luna album I heard, and remains my favorite of theirs today. "Dear Diary" is the opening song, sounding at once tossed-off but undeniably seductive and just too cool to care what you might think of it. That opening guitar lick, Dean Wareham's nasally Wellington-via-New York vocals, the instantly-repeatable chorus... it's a laid-back and class(y/ic) tune that already sounds like it's from another world, so unconcerned with placating our cravings for the yelpy, juvenile egoism that passes for indie rock profundity in 2009.

Front-to-back, this is a very good album, and to me it feels like the point where Luna really pulled it all together. Why then is it almost universally dismissed as the worst album of the band's career? A few reviews I was able to find online absolutely trash it as irredeemable and worthless. That's not to say that it didn't receive positive reviews as well, though those seem to range from offering backhanded praise to indifferent approval at best.

I'd say that I normally wouldn't care about this at all but when it comes to artists I'm particularly fond of, my tastes usually fall in step with whatever the masses agree on. OK Computer is my favorite Radiohead album. Trans-Europe Express is the Kraftwerk CD I usually go for. Isn't Anything isn't the the best album from My Bloody Valentine; not for most and not for me. And so forth. So when I happen to like something so much that so many other reasonable people think is crap (including the artists themselves), it gives me pause to wonder if maybe I'm really a horrible judge of what goes into a good song.

The Days of Our Nights remains out of print following the merger of Sire Records into London-Sire in 2000. Despite being an album they could conceivably still earn royalties from (any proceeds made from their releases on Elektra Records will go straight back into label pockets until past advances are paid in full -- read Dean's book and it'll make sense), Luna seems content to let it wither and die in the vaults. Finding a used copy was one of the best discoveries I've made in the past two years, and the album's helped get me through some strange times in ways a little too personal for me to want to air out in a place like this. And perhaps falling out of circulation wasn't so bad for this album after all. After an unpleasant introduction to the world that ultimately left it commercially and artistically disowned, it now lies between the cracks waiting for the right ears to hear it at the right time, hopefully belonging to the kind of people who'll love whatever songs on it they feel like without worrying about the consequences.

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