Raveonettes – Raven in a Grave (2.5 Stars out of 5)
I have often had a weird relationship with the Raveonettes. They have played the role of the all-too-sweet candy that tastes good going down but eventually gives you a stomachache. Their brand of 80’s new wave sounds on the surface have a way of seeping into my psyche only to escape without notice. The music is like a quick hitter with no lasting satisfaction.
Their latest “Raven in a Grave” on the whole tastes like a bad batch of candy. I had felt the need to review the Raveonette’s following my review of the Dirty Beaches because I felt that when borrowing from a genre there is a difference between something that is genuine and something that feels like a copy.
Recharge and Revolt started the album out strongly, playing itself as a tune from the Radio Dept. They set the feeling perfectly, as if the song belongs in regular rotation at Club Neo.
The problem starts on songs such as ‘Forget that You’re Young ‘ and ‘Apparitions’ that are trying to take to the bank the 80’s revivalism to a new level. With the amount of bands like Dan Behar’s ‘Destroyer’ and ‘Cut Copy’ attempting to cash in on the 80’s era Goth bands begins to sound contrived and boring. Whereas bands like Ariel Pink were able to successfully bring some of their own into the mix, it sounds like 80s MTV gone bad.
There is no character and I am left feeling pretty empty. By the time you get to ‘Summer Moon’ you want to kill yourself. Note to the Raveonettes: take a listen to an album like The XX’s debut album that creates an atmosphere with some attitude.
Listen to Jamie Smith and Romy Madley Croft sing on that. It captures the soul that is necessary for a song like this to be successful.
The second half of the album is slightly stronger. Songs like ‘Ignite’ bring some insurgence after being lulled to sleep and maybe they realized that in the title. It’s not able to save the album although it will fit perfectly on that mix that you are creating of 80’s revivalist bands.
I think the major problem that I have with a release like this is that there is no enigmatic lead singer. Danish partners Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo feel very bland here. The mid-tempo songs die without the power of an invigorating voice and the rest of the album feels as if it’s just rehashed ideas. You would be better served by just pulling out your Jesus & Mary Chain collection and humming along.
On a similar note: as genres are rediscovered, so are television shows. If you have not received the memo yet, MTV is going to have 120 Minutes back on the air.