The Raveonettes thrust themselves upon the music scene with their trademark “whiplash rock ‘n’ roll” back in 2002 with the phenomenal Whip It On EP like a Velociraptor going for the jugular. Since then they have been kicking out albums with an alarming regularity. Personally I found their first three a tad disappointing: Chain Gang Of Love (2003), Pretty In Black (2005) and Lust, Lust, Lust (2007) were either too bubblegum or lacklustre for my tastes. But then… In And Out Of Control (2009) arrived with the same impact as licking a defibrillator. The run through of ‘D.R.U.G.S’, ‘Breaking Into Cars’ and ‘Break Up Girls’ remains a 12 minute wired frenzy topping a hell of an album. Raven In The Grave (2011) continued the glory with ‘Forget That You’re Young’ showing a new side as well as the usual barracking noise rock of ‘Apparition’. Observator (2012) was darker, more introspective, almost goth-y led by the stunning acoustic based torch song ‘Young & Cold’ and the piano led ‘Observations’. It’s 2 years later, so of course, The Raveonettes have a new album out, called Pe’ahi.
The album retreats from the dark path of Observator turns the noise back on. Not that the album feels like a backwards step, merely a recognisable return to what this band does best: whiplash rock ‘n’ roll. ‘Endless Sleeper’ starts surprisingly quietly with a jaunty riff until the feedback hits. Somewhat low-key, this is a band confident and free of the need to impress. ‘Sisters’ turns the heat up with pounding drums and then… what appears to be a twanging harp… then the chorus hits like a sledgehammer. The Raveonettes are back, baby. ‘Killer In The Streets’ has a riff not a million miles away from a Brit Pop band and brings the bass to the fore for a change. One of the most danceable tracks in their output. ‘Wake Me Up’ has the slower vibe of Observator but with a glossy sheen applied. ‘Z-Boys’ impressed with its slump into silence then dreamy, extended coda. ‘A Hell Below’ sees a tip of the hat to the Jesus & Mary with a classic Raveonettes chorus. ‘The Rains Of May’ rides out in style with a slow start and an almost New Order-ish guitar led back section. ‘Kill!’ is the best song on the album, being one of the most brutal songs in their back catalogue, hitting with a practically industrial atmosphere mixed with techno-ish drums, sounding like a rave in a Hostel movie. The lyrics are the best offered on Pe’ahi by a mile. Eye watering, like vindaloo eye drops. ‘When Night Is Almost Here’ starts with the kind of drone you normally get in Hollywood blockbuster trailers* mixed with a soft lullaby and caressed vocals. ‘Summer Ends’ brings a full colour melody to close on a shining note, like an over-exposed picture.
The drums are more interesting and varied than normal, production is crisp and interesting. The tone is almost playful while not sacrificing the sunglasses-indoor-cool that you associate with the band. Not as exhilarating as In And Out Of Control or forging new emotional ground like Observator, Pe’ahi instead blends the rock ‘n’ roll skills of the former with the songwriting growth of the latter. This means that while the album is not as immediately striking as those, it rewards with its sheer elan. A confident, sublimely made album that proves that The Raveonettes are one of the slickest, coolest bands on the planet. If you are already a fan, the album will be everything you want and if you are not (yet) a fan, get on board right now!
* “In a world”…DDDDDDMMMMMMMMMMMM