Release Date: Sep 11, 2012
Record label: Vice
Genre(s): Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Noise Pop
On their sixth album, these sexy-gloomy Danes shed their leather jackets and allow the sun to shine in, at least for a few minutes: The chiming "Sinking With the Sun" could be a lost B side from the British shoegazers Lush, while the peppy "Downtown" swings and chimes. Even when the band allows its minor-key impulses back in, the album feels pleasant, in a late-summer-sunset kind of way. Listen to 'Observator': .
While listening to the shimmering new nine-song Raveonettes album, we follow along as head Raver Sune Rose Wagner describes, in an attached press document, the influences on its creation. These include the hope and despair of an ill-fated move to Los Angeles, the pull of chemical distractions and subsequent depression, the sound of the sea and inspiration from The Doors. As if the Everly Brothers channeled Norma Desmond, Observator is the sweet sound of summertime sadness.
Last time Danish pairing Sharin Foo and Sune Rose Wagner really demanded our attention was with 2003’s stomporific ‘That Great Love Sound’. Since then they’ve released five albums of fuzzed-up beat pop, but only now reconnect to the zeitgeist with this dusky sixth album, drenched in drugs, drunks and delicious degradations. Inspired by Wagner’s back injury, drug binges and clinical depression, the influence of Chairlift, Warpaint, Alt-J and The xx all subliminally creep into adorable but chilling laments on dying young (‘Young And Cold’) and wrecked romances (‘Observations’, ‘You Hit Me (I’m Down)’).Mark Beaumont .
On their 2012 album Observator, the Raveonettes take a step back from the darkly gloomy, intricately produced sound of 2009's Raven in the Grave for something stripped-down and much more intimate. With the help of longtime mentor Richard Gottehrer, the duo of Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo spends a portion of the album taking apart the band's guitar-heavy sound and reassembling it piece by piece, sometimes leaving things out (like the drums in "Young and Cold") and sometimes adding new elements (the hip-hop drum loop on "Curse the Night" or the stately piano in "Observations"). The carefully half-finished-sounding production works to bring out facets of the Raveonettes that are usually easy to overlook, like their often stunning vocal harmonies and the strength of their melodies.
The Raveonettes have pretty much stayed in the same lane for their entire career, only making occasional sonic tweaks to their beloved sonic palette. The fuzz of shoegaze has never grown old to them, and there's more than likely a few worn copies of the C86 tape and the Jesus and Mary Chain discography kicking around the homes of singer/guitarist Sune Rose Wagner and singer/bassist Sharin Foo. There's something to be said about expert craftsmen though, individuals who lock into one form or trade and do it to its absolute death at a high skill level.
Formed in Copenhagen ten years ago, the Raveonettes never seemed long for this world. An apparent obsession with the Velvet Underground and the Jesus and Mary Chain, coupled with a pallid skin and the recurring themes of sex and death, never does much to give an impression of longevity. But nestled between the reverb and distortion, Sharin Foo and Sune Wagner have managed to bury some (not quite) classic pop.
Review Summary: Parked beside the ocean on our moonlight drive.At this point, you pretty much know what you’re going to get with a new Raveonettes record, and, in turn, a Raveonettes review. An obligatory the Jesus and Mary Chain reference. Black-and-white publicity photo reflecting the iciness of the band’s Danish home and something faintly edgy, Sune Rose Wagner’s black contrasting with Sharin Foo’s platinum.
When the Raveonettes burst out of Copenhagen 10 years ago, they recorded each of their albums under a strict creative constraint, which seemed a bit arbitrary at the time. Every song on their 2002 debut EP, Whip It On, was written in B-flat minor; B-flat major defined their first full-length, Chain Gang of Love, a year later. For catalog highlight Lust Lust Lust in 2008, Sune Rose Wagner trashed all the crash cymbals and played all the instruments himself.
On their sixth album, Observator, the Ravonettes shed the insufferable mall-goth accoutrements from their previous outing, 2011’s ghastly Raven in the Grave. Simply dropping that album’s ham-fisted Twilight imagery and garbled syntax is enough to mark Observator as something of a rebound for the Danish duo, who focus instead on the moody, melancholy songwriting and classic pop structures of their earlier work. Unfortunately, the set suffers from a lack of potent hooks and from dreary arrangements that overstay their welcome, making the album seem far longer than its scant half-hour running time.
When it came time for Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo of The Raveonettes to begin work on their latest effort, the two succumbed to the allure the west coast had always held for the band members. “…Observator was supposed to be our Los Angeles album,” Wagner said of the band’s sixth full-length. When Wagner was diagnosed with clinical depression while recovering from a back injury and needed to escape the partying lifestyle and other contributory distractions, the two decided to give in to the irresistible pull of the Pacific.
Danes Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo are very much the proto-Kills. A male-female duo, much like Hince and Mosshart, they share a similar inspiration in the messier - subject and sound-wise - end of rock music, whilst putting a very Scandinavian spin on the sleaze so their fans aren’t faced with the reheated Velvet Underground leftovers that so many of the Raveonettes’ contemporaries are serving. ‘Observator’ is Wagner and Foo’s sixth studio album, recorded in Los Angeles because (according to Wagner) it’s where fat, dead poet Jim Morrison and his band the Doors ‘did all their best stuff’.