The Raveonettes | Lust Lust Lust (Vice)

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cd_raveon.jpg"Aly, Walk With Me" features the sort of classic jangly distortion you've heard tons of bands do, but it sounds awesome here—exposed wires emanating a thrilling buzz that you dare not get too close to (though you kind of want to).





Yes yes yes. It's good good good! The Raveonettes have unquestionably nailed their sound on their fourth release, the unambiguously titled Lust Lust Lust. Previous records also had the distortion-fueled guitar and chirpy '60s girl-group vibe the band favors, but something is different here. There's a rock-solid aesthetic that's kicked in, or perhaps just a greater degree of confidence. In the process, the group has stumbled across (or maybe deliberately embraced) one of the true secrets of making great pop music: placing heartfelt simplicity at the core of a compelling, ear-grabbing sonic landscape.

How have they done this? Well, the vocal lines are remarkably simple, for the most part. One trick the band uses on several songs, such as the fetching track "Dead Sound" (a paradoxical title, since this tune is fully alive on every level), is to have Sune Rose Wagner (guitars and vocals) sing a lyric on a single pitch, while Sharin Foo sings, say, a major third above him -- then raises her voice up one more tone in tandem with the bass, which does the same thing. You don't have to know music theory to feel the effect; it's sublime. It's the sort of thing that produces shivers in the attentive listener.

Whether it's Foo or Wagner taking the lead or the higher vocal doesn't matter; it's their voices together in that fuzzy, electrified mix of sound that proves so irresistible. A personal favorite track is "Black Satin," certainly about as simple vocally as a song could be. The first four lines of each five-line verse feature Foo singing a repetitious series of descending major second intervals drenched in reverb, while a steady drumbeat pounds away. On the third line, the bass does something different that's musically gripping, and then a satisfying musical resolution arrives on the fifth line, corresponding with a shift in the vocal harmonies.

You can spend hours trying to describe what makes music like this magical, but it's best to discover it yourself. The key point is that somewhere in that Jesus and Mary Chain-style distortion, '60s melodic sensibility and disarmingly nonchalant vocal approach, The Raveonettes have hit sonic paydirt. Sure, their sound is an amalgamation of things you've heard before, but it's the well-cooked blend that goes down so smoothly, the sheer vibrancy of the result.

"Aly, Walk With Me" features the sort of classic jangly distortion you've heard tons of bands do, but it sounds awesome here -- exposed wires emanating a thrilling buzz that you dare not get too close to (though you kind of want to). On "Hallucinations," if you listen carefully you can hear the influence of everyone from Tommy James and the Shondells to My Bloody Valentine, with pleasing girly stuff mixed in.

And how is it possible for the weird arrangement of "The Beat Dies" (it kinda does, by the way), with its plodding percussion and waves of distortion simmering like heatwaves on the summer roadway, to sound so utterly organic and natural? Or for the drumming and elementary guitar part on the haunting soft rocker "With My Eyes Closed" to make poetry out of lyrics that are anything but?

Something is going on throughout this record, for sure. It's the sound and the lack of fury, the smooth motion in the aural commotion, the hidden treats behind the quirky beat. Or heck, maybe it's just a sexy slab of Danish rock. The Raveonettes' best to date, says this corner.

"I know that you want the candy...tastes so sweet, makes good love bad," Foo and Wagner sing on "You Want the Candy," another song that seduces your ears. We do indeed want it bad, guys, so thanks for obliging with this lusty little long-player. B+ | Kevin Renick

RIYL: The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Black Angels, well-produced girl groups of the '60s

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