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Album Review: The Raveonettes’ “Observator”
The Raveonettes take a slightly different turn for the torment with their sixth studio release, Observator. This time, the Danish duo’s normally dark lyrics and dingy guitar noise from albums of yore ride quietly in the backseat down a road of desperation and have nots. Sune Rose Wagner says of the record that “it’s like a heavenly dream that you slowly realize is actually taking place in hell.” Agreed. Love can be quite cruel.
Observator introduces keys to the Raveonettes musical equation. The piano flows freely, offsetting the vintage fuzz to create depth with its yearning melodies. The album mostly sticks to simple beats and verse chorus verse, and a significant influence by The Doors (Sune was listening to them for a good stretch, and they recorded at the same LA studio as Jim and co). Sharin Foo explores her vocal range, occasionally straying from her sugary smoothness to project a sound that might come from Stina Nordenstam’s pipes (see “Curse The Night”). It may be difficult for the untrained ear to distinguish the changes the Danish duo have made, but those well-versed in Raveonettes will surely notice a shift. Worry not: their distorted oldies vibe is still ever-present and ever-wonderful.
Though many Raveonettes songs are soaked in Big Apple references, Observator is geographically vague. There’s a lone Lower East Side mention in “She Owns The Streets.” It’s about a seemingly crazy lady dancing around cabs on the Bowery (have you seen her?), but reminds us when it comes to circumstances that we should never assume, because it makes the proverbial ass out of you and me.
The Raveonettes usually have vivid lyrics, but this time they are gripping because of their simplicity (such as the lyric “I love you way too much” in their kick off track “Young and Cold”). It’s how the words and their delivery align with the disquieting notes that put this album close to the magic that was their sophomore release Pretty in Black (interestingly enough, the producer from that album has rejoined them for Observator). It’s fetching in its bleakness.
The record drops September 11, and you can catch them at Webster Hall October 5. Meantime, check the video below and note all the Lower East Side nabe-checking…