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Album Review

The Raveonettes' late career run of excellent work continues on 2014's Pe'ahi, an album that blends the heady rush of their early records with the sophisticated arrangements and darker moods of their 2010s stuff. Building on the more intricate and thoughtful approach of 2012's Observator, Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo craft a sound that's full of the duo's expected overdriven-to-the-point-of-breaking guitars, but also has lots of breathtaking dynamics and more focus on beats and rhythms than usual. Whether it's the canned bossa nova beats of "Endless Sleeper," the pounding hip-hop swagger of "Sisters" and "KiIl!," or the Zeppelin-esque thunder of "Summer," the drums anchor and propel the songs in a powerful fashion. Wagner's songwriting leans toward the dark, as usual, but this time there seems to be some anger running just below the surface, or sometime right on it, which is reflected in the at-times brutal attack of the guitars. His production, done with the help of American hotshot Justin Meldal-Johnsen, is sleek and honed to needle-sharp perfection. The arrangements are rarely straightforward, with barely anything playing out in an expected way. Instead there are constant surprises popping up in the mix, like churchy backup singers and a filthy bassline on "Killer in the Streets" or a long section of sub-aquatic fuzz and feedback that splits the very Medicine-y "Z-Boys" in two. Throughout, the duo show they can still make tons of noise and pout as dangerously as ever, but as on their last two albums, the growth in their songwriting and emotional depth continues to grow deeper and richer. After having been around for so long, and after having made so many good records, it might be easy to take the Raveonettes for granted, or to cast them aside in favor of the latest flavor of the month. Like the rest of their 2010s output, the strength and near-brilliance of Pe'ahi show clearly what a mistake it would be to do either of those things. Anyone looking for the best that noise pop has to offer in 2014 should start their search with the Raveonettes.

Customer Reviews

PE’AHI

I too thought this album was a bit too noisy and a bit too lo-fi at first, but it has really grown on me, it’s no more fuzzy than the likes of Lust Lust Lust. Conventional song structures have been thrown out the window to create these intricate, dreamy soundscapes that really do work very well. Raven In The Grave and Observator both had their moments but were overall a bit bland and conservative. It’s great to have fun experimental Raveonettes back. This is a proper summer record, I love it.

Top Tracks: Endless Sleeper, KILL!, The Rains of May, Wake Me Up & Summer Ends

Hugely Disappointing

Some otherwise excellent, interesting and potentially atmospheric compilations are utterly ruined by a ridiculously generous helping of white noise throughout this album. It’s so bad I initially thought the download was corrupt but it soon became clear it was deliberately smeared over the entire album.

Other bands have used white noise to fantastic effect, Radiohead to name but one, and have done so in a way which adds real value to the track. It's a style I love when it's done properly. The Raveonettes however feel that a blanket of almost constant white noise over many of their tracks is a cool and ‘clever’ thing. Sadly it’s not. It’s not used artistically here and it certainly couldn’t be described as intelligent creativity. It’s just spoils every track it appears in, hence the album fails as a whole.

I bought this album after listening to samples of it on modest PC speakers and I thought the samples sounded okay. When played on quality larger machinery and quality headphones on your iPod however the white noise becomes extremely irritating and it ensures that this album sinks into the bog of eternal stench.

I have bought around 2-3 albums every month for about 25 years and this must be one of the most disappointing I’ve bought in all of that time, not because the tracks are dull, but because otherwise excellent tracks are ruined by stupidity disguised as art.

The Raveonettes need to rethink their use of sound.

Raveon with claws!

This is amazing! It is definitely their most aggressive record since Whip It On, but it has a huge, adventurous sound that will rattle yer teeth. Love, love, love it! Well done Raveonettes, you never cease to amaze.

Biography

Formed: 1998 in Copenhagen, Denmark

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Combining the noisy swells of the Jesus and Mary Chain with melodic elements of '50s rock & roll, the Raveonettes formed in Copenhagen during 2001. Guitarist Sune Rose Wagner had tried assembling a band for several years, traveling between New York City, Las Vegas, Hollywood, and an island outside of Seattle in his search for like-minded musicians. A longtime fan of Bob Dylan, he also prized the songwriting of Buddy Holly, the harmonies of the Everly Brothers, and the guitar work of Mark Knopfler,...
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Pe'ahi, The Raveonettes
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