Imagine: On a full-throttle bender through the Nevada desert, the rebel malcontent protagonist of a lurid b-movie trailer sits behind the wheel of a whiskey-fueled jet-black '57 Chevy. With the squealing din of police sirens hot on his tail, he switches the radio dial to...the Ronettes? Not Steppenwolf, not AC/DC--the Ronettes. Most jaded moviegoers would consider this an unlikely soundtrack to the scene. But the Raveonettes' debut mini-album Whip It On (Orchard) evokes exactly this kind of danger anthem-cum-classic love song, suggesting that the similarity between the Raveonettes' moniker and that of Phil Spector's '60s girl group is hardly coincidental.
The Danish duo's songwriting half, Sune Rose Wagner, is admittedly influenced by Spector's trademark wall-of-sound production. But unlike the Ronettes' passive doe-eyed divas, the Raveonettes are clearly the aggressors. The duo epitomize the sordid crowd that white-aproned housewives warned their teenage girls about in the 1950s--not only because of Wagner's rebel grimace, but also because of his six-foot-tall partner Sharin Foo's sultry-vixen-smoking-in-the-girls'-room pose.
On every track of Whip It On, Foo's seductive whisper simmers beneath Wagner's sinister croak, both voices blending together until they ache with incendiary longing. With the help of grinding guitar and a four-track drum machine, the pair become a full-thrust sonic assault, busting eardrums and breaking hearts with equal abandon. Nowhere is this vocal chemistry cranked up to greater effect than in the album's closing track, "Beat City," where the duo blazes through an itinerary of nihilistic hedonism: "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, have some fun." Plunging through rabid rockabilly riffs, they head straight into the dissonant cacophony of Jesus and Mary Chain. But somehow, the band manages to veer away from the lengthy ploddings practiced by like-minded JAMC-torchbearers Black Rebel Motorcycle Club--every track on the album clocks in at less than three minutes. Which is what makes the Raveonettes' brand of retro-rebellion so tantalizing: It smolders under the surface the whole time, but it never burns out.
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