The Raveonettes Lust Lust Lust

[Vice; 2008]

Rating: 2.5/5

Styles: wall-of-noise pop
Others: Suicide, Velvet Underground, Jesus and Mary Chain

When The Raveonettes released their first EP, Whip It On, in 2002, many listeners took them for trend-riders. The duo played minimalist, catchy garage rock. And like The Strokes, The White Stripes, and The Vines -- other minimalist, catchy garage rock bands who at the time were selling lots of records and wooing lots of critics -- The Raveonettes were thoroughgoing revivalists, shamelessly copping the songwriting moves, guitar tones, and production techniques of classic groups like The Velvet Underground and The Jesus and Mary Chain. A handful of music writers thought The Raveonettes were the next big thing, but most reviewers predicted that they wouldn't stick around very long.

As it turns out, neither camp was right: The Raveonettes have yet to experience widespread critical or commercial success, but they have steadily evolved, cultivating a small fanbase along the way. And Lust Lust Lust, their fourth release, isn't likely to change any of that.

On their tightest, most consistently engaging album to date, The Raveonettes demonstrate their mastery of mid-‘80s Jesus and Mary Chain's songwriting formula. The vocal harmonies lilt like the ones in ‘60s Brill Building productions; heavy, martial drumming locks each song in a rock ‘n’ roll death march; gusts of guitar feedback inject catharsis into the economical tunes; melodies plummet into white noise and reemerge for one last chorus. It's an effective template, and The Raveonettes execute it with precision.

With precision, not urgency. Flipped out and unhinged as their guitars may get, The Raveonettes' voices always sound cool and removed -- forcedly so, in fact. The singing on this album is remarkable for its utter lack of technique and personality. This deadpan delivery could have contrasted nicely with the incinerating guitars, but the lyrics' cliché Romantic decadence ("When I rise, I leave you to die") makes the whole package too emotionally murky. Why sing so listlessly about love and death? Are The Raveonettes being ironic? Perhaps, but it isn't an illuminating irony. Press down on the ambiguities of Lust Lust Lust as much as you want, and you'll still be trapped in a world of surfaces.

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