What to make of a Danish duo who seem obsessed with vintage American rock but can’t help filtering it through a Jesus and Mary Chain fuzzbox? Well, with a name like “The Raveonettes,” they’re wearing their influences on their sleeves, and they’ve often been written off as a retro novelty act. But similarly to better-known male-female duo The White Stripes, the band’s self-imposed stylistic restrictions often allow them to soar.
Lust Lust Lust is their fourth album in five years, and their first not to feature a cover that evokes a cheesy classic movie poster. Instead, it’s somewhat minimalist, and that’s a hint to what’s inside: a more stripped-down, back-to-basics Raveonettes, often utilizing synthesizer tones in the foreground or Primal Scream-style drum machines. “Dead Sound” kicks off as a major-key fuzz-fest, until the guitars fall away to reveal twinkling bells. It’s all in a major key, but still evokes a creepy, David Lynch-style surrealism.
The Raveonettes have always had a little trouble with albums getting “same-y,” although it’s not like they’re not aware of it: their first two albums proudly announced that all the songs were in B-flat major. They’re not joking, and three or four tracks here almost seem like slight revisions of each other. If you’re not into this crazy thing they’re doing, you might be baffled and bored. But, like a Lynch movie, if you adjust to the (admittedly dark and monochromatic) world view, you’ll be in for moments of heart-stopping beauty, like a guitar line in “Hallucinations” that suddenly ascends an octave for a stirring coda. Like Nick Cave or Tom Waits, the band have chosen a path that’s strangely out of time and stuck with it; they may seem a little strange, but that’s because they are.
Lust Lust Lust has been out in the UK since November but gets a US release on Vice records on February 19th.
Video: Raveonettes “Dead Sound”