Sunday, 9 September 2012

The Raveonettes - Observator

Album review by KevW


So it's been a decade of existence for Danish fuzz-merchants The Raveonettes. A decade well spent, with six albums, five EPs and twenty-odd singles to their name. They take influence from the 60s and have the rapid-fire release schedule to match. New LP 'Observator' comes just a year after previous effort 'Raven In The Grave' and only a few months on from stand-alone EP 'Into The Night'. It's remarkable that they've not only survived so long but continue to be revered and celebrated when, essentially (major label flirtation 'Pretty In Black' aside) all of their records are virtually the same make and model. They've had ten years of feasting on Buddy Holly for breakfast, The Shangri-Las for lunch and then a banquet of The Jesus & Mary Chain to finish the day off. You generally know what to expect from an album before you've heard it - it'll be just like the last one. So exactly what is their secret and why do we keep coming back for more?

A clue comes in the form of the first track they gave us from this release. 'Observations' initially sounded nice enough. Nothing spectacular, but after half a dozen spins it changed into a far better proposition. Now, a couple of months on and hearing it as part of the complete record it's become classic Raveonettes material. The pained trebley guitar and electronic beats they've used before, the dark tales of unrequited love and sinister undertones are commonplace. But it's now transformed into something statuesque. The same goes for the whole of 'Observator'. First listen: disappointed, a couple of standouts, essentially the same as all their other albums though. Bit of a shame. Now, after a many repeat plays it's hit fully impressive status. Beginning slowly with the country-infused 'Young & Cold', the aforementioned 'Observations' and then the mid-paced stomp of 'Curse The Night', these songs have no right to grow so much, yet somehow they do. And that's the secret to The Raveonettes continued success.

Their lo-fi, girl-group influenced sound has been in vogue these past couple of years (Dum Dum Girls called in this production team for their acclaimed 'Only In Dreams' album last year) but they still lead the pack. If a record label had been involved in the track-listing here we wouldn't be on to track six before we get what most would consider single material in the splendid 'She Owns The Streets', the preceding tracks coming across as Raveonettes by numbers - until the magic brought about by several plays takes effect and the wonderful transformation takes place. Those looking for a quick fix should maybe skip straight to this single, which is swiftly followed by the album's biggest hitter, the truly superb 'Downtown', the last in a trio of fast-paced scuzz-bullets that begins with 'Sinking With The Sun'. Raveonettes records have always dealt with dark subject matter; drugs, death, rape, heartbreak; and maybe they're masters of some kind of dark art themselves. 'Observator' is basically the same album they've been releasing for the past decade, though somehow, once it gets under your skin it's another set to behold.







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