Monday, February 18, 2008

The Raveonettes' Lust Lust Lust: The Smudge Review

I recall looking at the cover of The Raveonettes' debut, Whip It On, a few years back, and thinking that Sharin Foo and Sune Rose Wagner look trendy and harmless, the kind of couple that you might find lurking the aisles at IKEA. You'd think they would sound more like John & Yoko than Thor, the Norse God of Thunder. The feedback scream that introduced the first song, Attack of the Ghost Riders, was evidence that the demure couple had harnessed the powers of darkness and weren't afraid to unleash it on the unsuspecting listener.

After their black, dressed-in-B-flat-minor debut, The Raveonettes have increasingly crept toward pop, surf rock, and bubblegum, with rough edges, of course. Their latest album, Lust, Lust, Lust, carries over these elements - it still has the hooks and beats, but it also brings back tsunamis of noise and fury. There's danger in this - throwing all of your tricks together simultaneously, even in the era of the mp3 single, can yield an unfocused mess of an album. The risk pays off on Lust, Lust, Lust - in its quieter moments the songs groove and strut, and they gain momentum and force when the guitars blast through in dissonant sonic bursts.

Aly, Walk With Me, the album's opener, is just as much an announcement of impending devastation as Attack Of The Ghost Riders was on Whip It On. The wall of feedback is patient, though - after two minutes of slinky vocals set over a sexy bass line, a la Love & Rockets, and just when we start to wonder where the song is taking us - where are we taking Aly? - the demonic guitar noise swoops down and takes us like an evil surprise.

Hallucinations begins with innocent girl-band vocal melodies and simple but beautiful surf-guitar harmonies, and a soaring guitar melody with searing feedback in the foreground that comes in at the minute mark. It finishes with a pulsating beat propelling waves of distortion and that same repeating melody, perhaps a proper salute to Jesus and Mary Chain.

Dead Sound also features the girl-band vocal melodies, but is more uptempo, and the high point of this one, for me, is the flatpicking and countermelodics in the interplay between guitar and bass that come in at around 2:10, and the way it closes with that perfect little high bend at 2:30.

The same plucked-note flatpicking returns in You Want The Candy, a raucous romp about desire that leads into the equally raucous Blitzed, which blends 50's guitar styles with the Raveonettes' own noise rock.

One final thing - you might have heard the stripped, acoustic versions of Dead Sound, Lust, and Aly, Walk With Me. They hold together nicely, even without the guitar acrobatics and dynamics. To paraphrase The Cars' Ric Ocasek, a good song is still good, no matter who plays it or how it's played. Lust, Lust, Lust is an album full of them. Now, the question for the duet is: what's next?

Dead Sound (mp3) From Lust Lust Lust [Vice Records]

Dead Sound (Remix by Peter Homstrom and Jeremy Sherrer)(mp3)

Dead Sound (Digital Leather Cover)(mp3)

Watch “Dead Sound” From Lust Lust Lust [Vice Records]

Watch The Raveonettes perform “Dead Sound” on Black Cab Sessions

Own Lust Lust Lust

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