The Raveonettes - Observator

The album is never really present enough to make an impression, beyond a hazy silhouette in the distance.


Danes Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo are very much the proto-Kills. A male-female duo, much like Hince and Mosshart, they share a similar inspiration in the messier - subject and sound-wise - end of rock music, whilst putting a very Scandinavian spin on the sleaze so their fans aren’t faced with the reheated Velvet Underground leftovers that so many of the Raveonettes’ contemporaries are serving.

‘Observator’ is Wagner and Foo’s sixth studio album, recorded in Los Angeles because (according to Wagner) it’s where fat, dead poet Jim Morrison and his band the Doors ‘did all their best stuff’. Wagner certainly tried his best to emulate his heroes, going on a three day binge of booze and other naughty stuff prior to writing the record.

There’s a new air to the noisy, Jesus And Mary Chain elements of the band’s music, placed into this context: both the harsh, eye-watering heat of Venice Beach, and the head-fuck of legal (and illegal) stimulants. The influence of Americana comes through even more clearly than before, now it’s been sampled by the band first hand, rather than through records out of seventies New York (or Phil Spector’s studio in the sixties) being listened to in Copenhagen.

Opener ‘Young And Cold’ is packed with harmonies and piano lines, topped with distortion, like if studio geniuses/maniacs Brian Wilson and Kevin Shields ever met up; ‘Curse The Night’ has a similarly sweet, melodic West Coast-type sound, with some Suicide noise mixed in. The album’s high point, ‘The Enemy’ - mostly a solo Foo joint - is a blissed-out four minutes of jangly guitars, gorgeous vocals and a tinny 808 beat. It’s a little bit like Wavves, if Nathan Williams were as laid back as his marijuana intake suggests.

The only thing with records such as these is that the hazy, sun-kissed feel can make everything feel a little distant; and it’s no surprise the songs feel a little disconnected from the world around them, considering the circumstances in which they were written. There’s some more upbeat stuff - notably the shuffling rhythms and surf guitar of ‘Sinking With The Sun’ and ‘Downtown’, or the Wagner-led future single ‘She Owns The Streets’ about a girl he spied dancing like nobody was watching at a Black Keys show - but overall the album is never really present enough to make an impression, beyond a hazy silhouette in the distance.

More like this