Galaxie 500’s reputation is so large, and their influence so enduring, that it’s hard to believe that they were only around for three-and-a-half years. Dean Wareham, the singer/guitarist for Galaxie 500, would go on to form Luna1, write and record music with his wife Britta Phillips, produce, and score movies2. After 20+ years’ worth of music behind him, he’s never released a solo record until now, but he’s not launching himself as a solo artist with a sweeping manifesto of a record. Instead, Emancipated Hearts is a “mini-LP”3 of six tracks that allows Wareham to dip his toes into the proverbial singer-songwriter waters.
So what does it sound like? Galaxie 500? Luna? Something else? Well, it’s not exactly like either of those bands, but you can tell it’s definitely Wareham behind the microphone here. His voice – never a selling point – is serviceable, but runs a little flat. As for the music, it’s a further continuation of some of the ideas Wareham dealt with in Luna: dreamy, 60’s revival psychedelia. You could’ve put some of these songs on a Luna release, told me they were B-sides, and I would have looked around nervously and said “uh, yeah, of course they are, I knew that!” But Emancipated Hearts is psychedelic without the trippiness, and dreamy without the sense of wonder. The songs are solid, but they don’t have much passion behind them.
By this point, you already know whether or not you’re going to listen to Emancipated Hearts: if you’ve followed Wareham this far, you’ll follow him a bit further. If you’re still mad about Galaxie 500 breaking up, this record ain’t going to mend your heart. If you’re a newcomer to Wareham, I’d suggest starting somewhere else other than this mini-LP; Galaxie 500’s Today is excellent, along with Luna’s Bewitched. Fans of Spacemen 3, Spiritualized, or Brian Jonestown Massacre will probably find some tunes on Emancipated Hearts that are worth plundering, but for the most part, we’ve heard these sounds before. As the chief driving force of Galaxie 500, Luna, and Dean & Britta, Wareham can do better than this.
“Love is Colder Than Death”
Well, actually, there’s one more thing. Depending on which version of Emancipated Hearts you buy, you’ll get different bonus tracks. The digital comes with an additional cut from the recording sessions (“Living Too Close To The Ground”4). The other track, the one that comes with CD version of the album, is a remix of the title track. This cut is actually pretty interesting because it attempts to modernize a song that is otherwise part of a stale, dusty genre. Welp, there you go! That’s the last thing I had to tell you. Have a good week – see you next time!