Album: The Raveonettes <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

Pretty in Black, COLUMBIA
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The Independent Culture

On both their previous albums - 2003's eight-track debut, Whip It On, and the same year's full-length major-label offering, Chain Gang of Love - the Danish duo The Raveonettes seemed to have tapped into the rock'n'roll motherlode previously mined by such as The Jesus And Mary Chain, one in which vulnerable pop melodies suffer reckless endangerment from wild fuzz-guitars. Two years on, they've developed their vision further, incorporating a wider, more sophisticated range of styles and sounds, but in the process losing much of their indefinable magic. They may have acquired stylish new bohemian friends, with Suicide's Martin Rev, the Velvets' Mo Tucker and Ronnie Spector all putting in appearances, but their earlier headlong momentum has been sidetracked into songs like "Heavens", the slow, acoustic guitar-driven slice of cowboy-junkie music that opens the album. This time round, the artifice is too plain: with their sleigh-bells and cavernous reverb, "Seductress of Bums" and "Ode to LA" are Spector-manqué exercises, and while there are a few decent tunes, the general impression is of The Cramps' psychobilly heart being colonised by The B-52s' kitsch-pop sensibility. It still works to a degree, but the aftertaste is of saccharine rather than sugar.