Album: The Raveonettes

Chain Gang Of Love, Columbia
Click to follow
The Independent Culture

"This is Whiplash Rock'n'Roll" reads one of the various catchphrases adorning the cover of The Raveonettes' second album of 2003. They're not wrong, either: Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo, the Danish duo in question, have a firm grasp of the essentials of classic rock'n'roll style, and particularly the importance of brevity. These 13 tracks zip by in a shade over 33 minutes, each one lingering only long enough to impress itself upon one's consciousness before departing as suddenly as it appeared, leaving just a red welt stinging the memory.

Those enticed by their previous eight-song mini-album Whip It On won't be disappointed by Chain Gang of Love, despite the debut's primitive four-track sound being upgraded with more sophisticated recording methods. It's still essentially the same formula of vulnerable pop melodies endangered by wild, slavering guitars, with the primitive drum-machine stomp and offbeat tambourine of a track like "Dirty Eyes" encapsulating the petulant alienation of white-kid outlaw rock'n'roll from Buddy Holly through the Velvets, Suicide and Jesus & Mary Chain to Nine Inch Nails.

Their attitude can best be summed up by a couplet from "The Love Gang", wherein "two delinquents in love" analyse their attraction as "Chains, black leather and sex/ Yeah, it's not that complex". Not that complex, maybe, but shrewd and artful throughout: the Raveonettes have taken on board the notion which the Jesus & Mary Chain came closest to in their work with Mazzy Star vocalist Hope Sandoval, that the depraved black-leather rebel-rocker outlaw thing is so much more effective when offset by a sense of purity and innocence - deflowering the virtuous, as it were. Such is the effect here when black clouds of feedback overwhelm the innocent melody of "Noisy Summer", and when Sharin Foo's harmonies are applied to Wagner's songs about sexual satiation ("Little Animal"), frustration ("Chain Gang of Love"), and affiliation with the dark downside of street culture in "The Truth About Johnny".

The Raveonettes have made shrewd choices of backroom collaborators, drafting in as producer Richard Gottehrer - whose ear for girl-band pop was best employed on Blondie's hits - and using as mixer Alan Moulder, whose experience with the more hardcore of rock tones and textures extends to working with the Mary Chain, Curve and Nine Inch Nails. The pair's talents dovetail perfectly with The Raveonettes', effecting a stylish, driving rock sound heard at its best on the melodious swagger of the single "That Great Love Sound", a punk-pop classic-elect. Short and sweet, and slightly tart.

Comments