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. This the record that marks the end of their first decade as a band finds the US-based Danish duo in fine form.
All the landmarks of a Raveonettes record are here; distortion, the three-note guitar solos and the sense of irrepressible pop. The naivety of Chain Gang of Love remains untouched but then again so does its entire basic formula - though that’s not purely a bad thing.
This record is borne from the depression Sune felt as a result of ‘not being able to put his socks on in the morning’ after injuring his back, after ditching the chaos of New York for the LA sun, Sune found the inspiration that informed the blessed-out vibes of ‘Young and Cold’. Shout along vocals are joined by thrashed out chords on a battered old acoustic.
As far as openers go it’s not exactly arresting, guiding rather than grabbing before the shifting pianos of first single 'Observations'. The first chords sound sneakily reminiscent of Midlake’s ‘Roscoe’, before Sune’s reverb flecked vocal kicks in.
The familiar Jesus and Marychain does kick in and it’s almost as if the band have never been away. Tracks like 'Curse the Night' and 'Downtown', which – oddly, is reminiscent of the 2008 alt-pop boom; a handful of chords and a face full of distortion.
Album closer ‘Till the End’ is an all out thrash into the black. An opening plea quickly fades as a wall of guitars explodes. 'Till the End' manages to encapsulate the very essence of this record; frequently familiar but ultimately rewarding and while it’s by no means a party record it’d not as dark as the period that inspired it.
There is no immediate hit here, but the record flows well and the gentle rotation between the Raveonettes’ various influences makes for easy listening. With nods to the Velvet Underground through to the Jesus and Mary Chain, the record ends up inhabiting a similar space to Scandinavian neighbour Sambassadeur, only less synthetic.
While Observator may be no step forward, it is affirmation of a great formula. More for the fans than anyone else, Observator might not win over the sceptics but for those of us that treasure the band there’s plenty to be thankful for.
7Will Metcalfe's Score