Album: The Raveonettes

Whip it On, Crunchy Frog
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In rock'n'roll, it's usually the simplest things which make the greatest impact. A chance collision of vocal harmonies that pierces the heart, a tune so dumb and obvious you can't get it out of your head for weeks, a riff so simple even The Troggs would consider it an insult to their abilities – this debut mini-album from The Raveonettes has all these and more, its eight slim tracks offering the best argument for the enduring power of rock'n'roll since – well, since further back than I can remember, and certainly further back than The Strokes.

In rock'n'roll, it's usually the simplest things which make the greatest impact. A chance collision of vocal harmonies that pierces the heart, a tune so dumb and obvious you can't get it out of your head for weeks, a riff so simple even The Troggs would consider it an insult to their abilities – this debut mini-album from The Raveonettes has all these and more, its eight slim tracks offering the best argument for the enduring power of rock'n'roll since – well, since further back than I can remember, and certainly further back than The Strokes.

The Raveonettes are Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo, a Danish couple whose pared-down, peeled-nerve sound is in direct line of descent from such as The Velvet Underground, The Cramps, Wire, Hüsker Dü and The Jesus And Mary Chain, with a particularly keen awareness of the lure of having pure, vulnerable pop melodies endangered by wild, slavering guitars. Or apparently wild, at least: driven along by primitive, hammering drum-machine, their layered guitar riffs have the singed texture and psychobilly twang that conveys wildness, but are actually formulated with extreme care and precision, even on the breakneck avant-surf-guitar barrage of the closing "Beat City". It's a method best illustrated by "Chains", on which the studied atonality of the guitar parts, just clashing lightly enough to lend a tart edge to the riff, recalls Television's Marquee Moon; the hook of "Veronica Fever" demonstrates the power wielded by a single crucial chord-change.

The band's appeal ultimately lies in the persistent tension between their propulsive, driving riffs and the duo's languid, haunted harmonies, a blend of opposites which ought to cancel each other out, but instead set each other off perfectly: a track like "Bowels of the Beast", for instance, sounds like nothing so much as The Everly Brothers backed by Black Sabbath, with Duane Eddy on guitar – a rock classicist's dream line-up, and not the only one here. As titles like this and "Attack of the Ghost Riders" suggest, Raveonettes' songs have little time for the subtler emotional niceties, focusing instead on concerns every bit as rock-classicist as their music. "Beat City" offers as concise a summary of their somatic worldview: "Wanna die in Beat City, run run run/ Wanna hang with girls, shoot my gun/ Wanna catch the rays of the sun/ Wanna drink and drive and have some fun".

As with the early Elvis and Jesus And Mary Chain, The Raveonettes offer a brilliant distillation of the dark glamour of rock'n'roll as a spiritual quest of transgression, both behaviourally and musically. Whip It On is a short, sharp shock to pop's increasingly sclerotic system, and a glorious reminder of how thrilling it can be when it ceases being merely a popularity contest. Essential.

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