The Raveonettes – Raven In The Grave (album, Vice)

Throughout the last decade Danish duo Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo have issued a string of albums of genuine quality at almost metronomic bi-annual intervals. Hopefully, this will continue indefinitely, although there is an undeniable valedictory sense throughout this, their fifth album.

Like all their previous studio sets, Raven In The Grave, represents a further collection of variations on their defenestrated or turbo-charged Spectorist template. This time around, Foo and Wagner strip away the sonic vandalism and up-tempo black leather rock’n’roll to drop nine subtler interpretations of the form. The crystalline fragility of many of the album’s tracks brings to mind more recent groups such as the Dum Dum Girls and thus acts as a clear indication of the way in which the Copenhagen band has influenced a whole generation of largely excellent outfits that have followed in their slipstream.

Opener, ‘Recharge and Revolt’ sets the tone, its title belying the honey-drenched simplicity within. Reminiscent of the Mary Chain sans feedback’n’fuzz, the tracks chiming guitar is supported by a booming ‘Be My Baby’ bass beat that is gradually enveloped by layers of overlapping pseudo-strings. ‘War In Heaven’ gives us more spectral Spectorisms as Sharin’s aching, imploring vocal tops a driving, portentous backing. Intermittently, the melody dissolves, tumbling across a blasted soundscape blown by siroccos of swirling, discordant guitar across a frozen sonic badland.

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Raven In The Grave is an album that twinkles, a dreamlike disc that would neatly soundtrack David Lynch’s cinematic reveries. Bittersweet and reflective, ‘Forget That You’re Young’ drifts across dead air, borne by chiming crystalline keys, before ‘Apparitions’ emerges as a gently insistent echoplexed musical box. By degrees post-apocalyptic and elemental, it features vocals that sound as if they have been beamed in from a watery tomb. As the track deliquesces amid vapour trails of flange, ‘Summer Moon’ reinforces the feeling of finality and departure. A gossamer moonlit tone-poem, the song provides evidence of the duo’s skill at combining delicacy with heartrendingly evocative melody. The phrase, ‘This perfect thing is dying’ drifts across a chill, still night.

‘Let Me On Out’ emerges as a mantra of regret and accusation set within a snow globe of shimmering reverb and restrained distortion. There is a cohesion to this album that results in a track-by-track continuity, the flipside of which being that no single song breaks the trance to emerge as anything so vulgar as a standout track. Perhaps ‘Ignite’ represents the closest thing to a wave on a disc that ripples; driven by a patented Peter Hook bassline, the number is a breathless account of self-loathing and departure, infused by a rich sense of doomed beauty. But such thermaturgy soon fades as the off-kilter intro to ‘Evil Seeds’ gives way to an expansive melange of driving distorted bass, death-trip guitar and emotive, ethereal vocals.

This is a romantic album, and one that reaches its natural conclusion with ‘My Time’s Up’. A multi-tracked Sharin provides a valedictory chorus of frozen heartbreak that echoes across a sparse crepuscular realm of broken hopes. This is the past – rock’n’roll’s past – and as such it looks to the future, as a sonic Telstar launches and resonant orchestral backing coalesces from the retro-futuristic miasma. Finally, we all look to the stars, and dream.


Originally posted 2011-05-11 16:48:27. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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