Music

The Raveonettes: In and Out of Control

The Raveonettes aren’t reinventing their formula with In and Out of Control, but with pop this lovely, they shouldn’t expect to hear any complaints.


The Raveonettes
Label: Vice
Title: In and Out of Control
US release date: 2009-10-06
UK release date: 2009-10-06

“Bang! You’re so vicious, baby.” Now that’s how you start a record. We know we’re in Raveonettes territory from those opening chimes, and frankly, I can’t think of a better way to spend the season. The leaves are starting to fall, there’s a chill in the air, and rock’s most melancholy Danes are back with album number four. The follow-up to the magnificent Lust Lust Lust, In and Out of Control has a lot to live up to.

It’s perfect that the Raveonettes hail from frozen Copenhagen -- their sound is seriously chilly. Take the icy charms of second track “Gone Forever", which has all the romantic warmth of a dead fish. It’s not that the Danish duo is ironic or disaffected; it’s more a question of musical inclination -- they like it cool, and they like it sharp. Though the Raveonettes takes their cues from classic girl groups like the Ronettes and the Shangri-Las, their sound is anything but straightforward nostalgia. By mixing My Bloody Valentine feedback with dance beats and retro winks, this duo combines so many different influences that they manage to sound completely unique.

While this isn’t the best time for girl group fans (only partly because of Phil Spector), the Raveonettes don’t seem to follow the whims of fashion. There’s barely a hint of trendy electronica here (well, excepting the cheesy rave intro of “D.R.U.G.S.”), just good old fashioned pop music. And thank god for that, because it gives us moments like the unbearably beautiful “Last Dance” -- a paean to a drugged-up lover that stands in the great tradition of “Leader in the Pack". It could make a single tear fall from the manliest eye out there, or, more correctly, the most disenchanted hipster. It’s the perfect example of what this band does best -- a gorgeous melody on the surface, hauntingly dark lyrics at its core.

It’s what the following song, “Boys Who Rape (Should All Be Destroyed)” wants so badly to be, but it’s a dismal failure. Think of the Raveonettes as rock’s perfect storm: when all the factors come together (wicked beat, biting lyrics, dreamy vocals), then everything is perfect. When just one element is missing (like on the dreary filler “Oh, I Buried You Today”), it all comes apart. But the vast majority of songs are sublime, be they the shrieking “Break Up Girls!” or the fuzzy, ephemeral “Suicide". Even if the fabulous Sharin Foo’s vocals do most of the heavy lifting, multi-instrumentalist Sune Rose Wagner knows how to hold his own. And so even though the Raveonettes might be only a duo, they manage to feel much larger. Take the spacey, My Bloody Valentine riffs of “Wine", or the glimmering dance music of “Heart of Stone" as proof. Those tracks are anything but sparse.

Despite the title, the Raveonettes are never out of control on this record, and that’s what keeps most of In and Out going steady -- even if it's ultimately the sole weak point. This isn't an album with spontaneity as a core value; at times it sounds manufactured, manicured, so glossy it practically shines. But that’s something of a minor quibble, especially in these hands. The Raveonettes don’t have to answer for authenticity; they’re the definition of effortlessly cool. Instead, they can focus on sheer musical vitality, and that’s exactly what they do. They are artists in complete control; if you’re looking for raw, unrestrained power, well, look elsewhere. The Raveonettes aren’t reinventing their formula with In and Out of Control, but with pop this lovely, they shouldn’t expect to hear any complaints.

7
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Love in the Time of Coronavirus

I Went on a Jewel Bender in Quarantine. This Is My Report.

It's 2020 and everything sucks right now, so let's all fucking chill and listen to Jewel.

Music

Jess Williamson Reimagines the Occult As Source Power on 'Sorceress'

Folk singer-songwriter, Jess Williamson wants listeners to know magic is not found in tarot cards or mass-produced smudge sticks. Rather, transformative power is deeply personal, thereby locating Sorceress as an indelible conveyor of strength and wisdom.

By the Book

Flight and Return: Kendra Atleework's Memoir, 'Miracle Country'

Although inconsistent as a memoir, Miracle Country is a breathtaking environmental history. Atleework is a shrewd observer and her writing is a gratifying contribution to the desert-literature genre.

Music

Mark Olson and Ingunn Ringvold Celebrate New Album With Performance Video (premiere)

Mark Olson (The Jayhawks) and Ingunn Ringvold share a 20-minute performance video that highlights their new album, Magdalen Accepts the Invitation. "This was an opportunity to perform the new songs and pretend in a way that we were still going on tour because we had been so looking forward to that."

Music

David Grubbs and Taku Unami Collaborate on the Downright Riveting 'Comet Meta'

Comet Meta is a brilliant record full of compositions and moments worthy of their own accord, but what's really enticing is that it's not only by David Grubbs but of him. It's perhaps the most emotive, dream-like, and accomplished piece of Grubbsian experimental post-rock.

Music

On Their 2003 Self-Titled Album, Buzzcocks Donned a Harder Sound and Wore it With Style and Taste

Buzzcocks, the band's fourth album since their return to touring in 1989, changed their sound but retained what made them great in the first place

Reading Pandemics

Chaucer's Plague Tales

In 18 months, the "Great Pestilence" of 1348-49 killed half of England's population, and by 1351 half the population of the world. Chaucer's plague tales reveal the conservative edges of an astonishingly innovative medieval poet.

Music

Country's Jaime Wyatt Gets in Touch With Herself on 'Neon Cross'

Neon Cross is country artist Jaime Wyatt's way of getting in touch with all the emotions she's been going through. But more specifically, it's about accepting both the past and the present and moving on with pride.

Music

Counterbalance 17: Public Enemy - 'It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back'

Hip-hop makes its debut on the Big List with Public Enemy’s meaty, beaty manifesto, and all the jealous punks can’t stop the dunk. Counterbalance’s Klinger and Mendelsohn give it a listen.

Music

Sondre Lerche and the Art of Radical Sincerity

"It feels strange to say it", says Norwegian pop artist Sondre Lerche about his ninth studio album, "but this is the perfect time for Patience. I wanted this to be something meaningful in the middle of all that's going on."

Books

How the Template for Modern Combat Journalism Developed

The superbly researched Journalism and the Russo-Japanese War tells readers how Japan pioneered modern techniques of propaganda and censorship in the Russo-Japanese War.

Film

From Horrifying Comedy to Darkly Funny Horror: Bob Clark Films

What if I told you that the director of one of the most heartwarming and beloved Christmas movies of all time is the same director as probably the most terrifying and disturbing yuletide horror films of all time?

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.