Luck Or Magic
For the last two decades Britta Phillips has partnered with Dean Wareham to provide a great range of music across the “dream-pop” spectrum, first as half of Luna, and then as the duo Dean & Britta. There they mixed covers and originals and worked on commissioned soundtracks for stage and film. Wareham stepped out recently with two great solo albums and now it’s Phillips’ turn. Actually, she started this album three years ago – and you’ll spot Wareham’s wonderful guitar lines across the album too.
Taking a page from the Luna/Dean & Britta playbook, this album recasts great record-collection pop covers, sneaking in a few choice originals. In fact it’s 50/50 covers and originals – you can decide whether they work due to Luck or Magic – but they all work. That’s a definite.
In the gauzy, wondrously washed and spun dry category we have the version of Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide that Lana Del Rey wished she’d made. And a synth-pop slow-jam recreation of The Cars’ Drive. Already a slow ballad by a band with synths, here it aches and creeps beautifully.
The lesser known covers are spectacular too – Wrap Your Arms Around Me was a 1983 solo hit for Abba’s Agnetha Faltskog, Fallin’ In Love is by The Beach Boys’ Dennis Wilson (1970) and Evie Sands’ 1969 gem, One Fine Summer Morning feels like this year’s feel-good/about-feeling-sad mini-masterpiece.
The originals stand up alongside these perfectly selected/crafted covers, opener Daydream ushers in the wooze – its intro wouldn’t be out of place on a Phoenix Foundation record, and also brings to mind that terrific side-project from Mr Tame Impala, Melody’s Echo Chamber.
In that vein, but further back towards the source, there’s a hint of the latter-period Nancy Sinatra to Do It Last – it seems to imagine Sinatra working with Sebastien Tellier if anything.
Gossamer textures, fragile and lovely pop music – there’s really not a hair out of place here, it’s as perfect as you’d expect from one half of a duo that hasn’t put a foot wrong across the last 20 years. Subtle, assured, correct – Luck Or Magic is the best of so many calmly swirling worlds, torch-balladry for the touchscreen-era.