Under Review: The Raveonettes – Raven In The Grave

If more bands adjusted their sound from album to album, ‘creative differences’ would become something that musicians would aspire to. The Raveonettes have been doing their part to keep their music fresh and relevant ever since their 2002 debut. Initially limiting themselves to more specific constraints (such as only writing songs in particular keys), Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo have more recently taken to giving each album a unique sonic character. Their first taste of success, Pretty In Black, polished up the noisy blasts from their early releases to a major label-friendly sheen. Subsequent efforts Lust Lust Lust and In And Out Of Control brought back the fuzz and upped the outlandishly catchy melodies, respectively. With Raven In The Grave, The Raveonettes move into further uncharted directions, embracing a goth-by-way-of-bubblegum gloom.

One of the most immediately noticeable traits about Raven In The Grave is that it features some of the longest songs the group has ever produced. “Recharge & Revolt,” the longest of them all, kicks off the album with an equally political and personal call to arms. Sune’s voice is just barely perched atop a wall of a guitar and drum rhythm that’s unlike anything The Raveonettes have come up with before. The tremolo-heavy surf guitars are largely absent on the new set, and the drums beat out more pensive, spare beats. A few of Raven In The Grave’s slower tracks hearken back to earlier variations on The Raveonettes’ sound; the drum-less couplet of “Summer Moon” and “Let Me On Out” showcase the duo’s trademark breathy harmonies. Raven In The Grave has its share of rockers, too, with Sharin’s cradle-robbing “Forget That Your Young” and Sune’s lustful “Ignite” providing pulsing counterpoints to the predominantly murky material.

Not unlike The Cure’s classic Disintegration, Raven In The Grave’s finest moments come from its atmospheric, macabre moments. “Apparitions,” a booming dirge, features mesmerizingly intertwined guitar- and basslines, and the verses of “Evil Seeds” get punctuated with an aggressively-snapped lick. Despite the darker turn their music has taken this time around, The Raveonettes remain enticing and relatable. Just because they’re exploring a shadowy place doesn’t mean they’ve forgotten how to imbue a great hook. The new hooks might take a little more time to sink in than usual, but The Raveonettes are a reliably rewarding band. A good pair of musicians can transcend any change, even ones they bring upon themselves.

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~ by E. on April 11, 2011.

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