The Raveonettes return with noir-style album
Itâs dusk and youâre walking down the Manhattan Beach Pier. Looking out at the never-ending ocean, you remember the tumultuous summer that just ended, the summer where you lost your significant other to mere circumstance. The sun is finally swallowed by the ocean and youâre left alone with your futile thoughts as you finally accept the bleak reality of life.
Sound like the plot to a 1950s film noir? Close enough. Itâs actually the film that plays in your mind when listening to The Raveonettesâ delectably desolate new album, Observator.
Sharin Foo and Sune Rose Wagner make up the critically acclaimed The Raveonettes, and the Danish duo has become a fixture in the indie-pop, neo-garage rock movement.
Emerging on the scene in the early 2000s, many critics considered them yet another flash in the pan â the overwhelming hype of bands such as The Strokes, The Vines and The White Stripes left little room for other bands of the same movement to be taken seriously. But The Raveonettesâ unique blend of â50s-style simple song structures, seamless harmonies and melancholy lyrics painted against a backdrop of major guitar fuzz quickly put the band on the path of critical success.
Officially set for release last Tuesday, Observator is the duoâs sixth full length album. The record follows 2011âs Raven in the Grave, which saw the band depart from its usual composition styles and go instead for a more gothic and uneven sound. Observator finds the band going back to its roots by featuring the trademark, inimitable shoegazing-on-the-beach musique noir that theyâve mastered so effortlessly.
The ironic placement of poppy harmonies and song structures against an overwhelmingly distorted sound has become a trademark for the band. Add in some lyrics that could be dialogue from The Big Sleep, and youâve got the makings of a wonderfully gloomy Raveonettes record.
From the steadily mellow and pensive opener âYoung and Coldâ to the majestically noisy closer âTill the End,â Observator takes the listener on a journey worthy of the best 1950s dime store pulp fiction. âYoung and Coldâ sets the stage for a flashback of that tumultuous summer, which the following seven songs aurally paint. âObservationsâ marks the first time the band has used a piano and is the perfect soundtrack for a fateful meeting, while Fooâs dreamy and ethereal vocals on âCurse the Nightâ make it clear that love is in the air. Songs like the Blondie-inspired âThe Enemy,â the â60s-pop-put-through-a-noise-blender âDowntown,â and the grungy âYou Hit Me (Iâm Down)â fill out the narrative of the rollercoaster ride of summer passion and all build up to the closing track, a final epiphany of freedom through dreamy distortion.
The raucously serene noir chronicle that is Observator was no accident â as he states on The Raveonettesâ official website, Wagner had been going through a particularly turbulent summer filled with disappointment, disaffection and depression. Tempted by the Pacific pull and inspired by the inherently Californian music of The Doors, Wagner set out for Los Angeles.
Expecting to find the answer to all his problems on Venice Beach, Wagner instead found nothing but more bleakness and solitude wrapped up in the beauty of California. After a four-day binge on benzos, booze and buddies, Wagner finally got the inspiration he needed to create an album that mirrored his experience â beautiful in sound, bleak at heart.
To further capture an authentic West Coast feel, Foo and Wagner recorded the album at Sunset Sound Studios, the legendary recording space frequented by The Doors. Recorded in only seven days, Observator comes out as a testament to the beauty of loneliness and the strange experiences that make up our lives.
âFor so long, I tried to capture a new muse and carve out a path forward for us,â Wagner said on the bandâs official website. âI travelled thousands of miles to find it and experienced all kinds of insanity along the way. Yet all the while, the future of The Raveonettes was in the people, the occurrences and the relationships that were immediately around me. [The album is] a collection of observations that occur in life and as Iâve learned, life happens everywhere.â
So the next time youâre thinking of brooding on the Manhattan Beach Pier with your toxic elixir of choice, instead of ruminating yourself to ruin, give Observator a try. Whether itâs taking in the strangely pleasant distorted sounds or relating to the anti-hero lyrics you picture Humphrey Bogart muttering, Observator offers such a romantic rendering of dejection that youâll end the record genuinely optimistic that itâs only when youâve lost it all that you can gain it all.