Words by Ken Scrudato
STYLE STYLE STYLE
They were a glorious sight, appearing gorgeously on the horizon. Modern day Vikings, they came from the land of Hamlet, pastry and strikingly progressive politics not to plunder but to enlighten. They joined a small band of our own revolutionaries led by the likes of Karen O and Carlos D, those fighting to reverse the cultural regression wrought upon this land by a seemingly endless string of mopey, badly styled clans of college dudes with guitars.
They were The Raveonettes!
They came to break free of the smallness of their otherwise groovy nation of Denmark. They had brilliant names like Sharin Foo (the blond, statuesque Goddess) and Sune Rose Wagner (the dashing, retro-rocker Genius), they were dressed in Teutonic black and they seemed seductively unattainable.
Yes, style was not only their friend, it was their servant. But after conquering the world and making two precisely stylized albums, something happened. The style beast, as happens (just ask those once magnificent pirates Duran Duran), turned on them.
Sharin, the Goddess, recounts of the struggle leading up to their new album, the inevitable Lust Lust Lust: “The [new] songs didn’t feel right. It’s just a gut feeling, you know whether you’ve got it right or wrong.”
LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION
Uh oh. What could they do?
“We did things to try to create the perfect environment,” the Goddess continues, “including packing all the gear up and driving all the way to a winery in Walla Walla Washington, to record there. We thought it would be the perfect setting, because we love wine so much. But it was too far out in the country, and we were missing the city.”
After a year and a half of not being able to locate their magic, Sune, the Genius, found it quite suddenly, whilst merely holed up in his apartment back in his adopted new home of New York City.
The Genius: “I wrote the song ‘Lust’ and sent it to Sharin and she absolutely loved it. So we created the whole album around that sound, that mood.”
LUST LUST LUST
Lust. In New York? No one knows how to fuck up the essence of lust like New Yorkers, where every harmlessly lascivious glance is taken as an intrusion on someone’s “space” and every sexual experience must be discussed for eighteen hours with one’s therapist. (The Genius: “I do find people way more inhibited here.”) But the Goddess and the Genius are, still, from Denmark.
You’d have to strain to find The Raveonettes you once knew and loved (Liked? Hated? Didn’t care about?) on their newest album, titled, yes, Lust Lust Lust. Their tightly controlled world is torn ferociously asunder by the time the first track, the uncharacteristically eerie “Aly, Walk With Me”, ends in an apocalypse of feedback. They vault themselves for the first time towards something epic, and sail majestically right over it.
Indeed, Lust Lust Lust is the sound of gut feelings run amok, as feral and viscerally exhausting a listening experience as you might have ever imagined they would ensnare you in. It is raw honesty beating the living daylights out of a career of cool calculation and conceptualizing.
“We wanted something less fictional, more personal,” explains the Goddess. “It became the darkest and most mysterious album we’ve ever done. It is also less one-dimensional, more layered, and has more depth. It’s less about all these little screenplays, and more about the internal. Which I think just suits us right now.”
The Buddy Holly grooves are still there, to a degree, and The Raveonettes remain amongst the new century’s most monumental masters of the melody. But, recalling the legendary My Bloody Valentine, the guitars on Lust Lust Lust sound as if they’re being mauled by a pack of elegant hyenas and the spooky, echo-drenched atmospherics are as ominous and affecting as that old Shoegazing lot probably always dreamt they were being. And there’s little use denying the Jesus & Mary Chain connection here, but it’s perhaps most evident in the way Lust Lust Lust thrashes monstrously from emotion to emotion without the slightest offering of pity or mercy.
“Expelled From Love” is one of the most beautifully gut-wrenching songs you will ever here, be warned.
The Genius: “It’s a spontaneous and personal album. It’s a lot about searching for answers.”
The Goddess: “I was just skiing [in Austria], and I realized I’ve started to feel mortal, I feel a bit scared now. I think about all the things that can go wrong. I used to be so fearless.”
Fear. Yes. Youth has a way of laughing it off. But The Raveonettes are growing up, and their music is growing up with them. A chilling lyric in the quasi title track, “Lust,” reveals much: “Everywhere I go / Life is one big lie”, they tell us. So much for the carefree days of cruising with the top down.
ONWARD ONWARD ON…
Oh, never mind that. Lust Lust Lust is such a staggering, magnificent achievement of both the aural and the visceral quite simply because The Goddess and the Genius have finally let their tumultuous selves spill out all over us, without so much as a hair falling out of place. And in doing so, they have made the soul-scorching, colossally consequential album they had perhaps really always intended to make. A masterpiece, from start to finish.
“It’s difficult to say how this defines us now,” ponders the Goddess. “We’re more focused and honest, certainly. But albums are all just a moment in time, aren’t they?”
She’ll excuse us, though, if we try to make this particular moment last just a tiny bit longer.