Review: ‘The Raveonettes’

The ongoing '80s revival has brought with it some unexpected consequences, including the return of punky, self-conscious art rock to the charts. The success of the White Stripes could carry other noisy, minimalist bands in its wake; Denmark's Raveonettes are one of the smartest of the current wave.

The ongoing ’80s revival has brought with it some unexpected consequences, including the return of punky, self-conscious art rock to the charts. The success of the White Stripes could carry other noisy, minimalist bands in its wake; Denmark’s Raveonettes are one of the smartest of the current wave.

Often compared to The White Stripes, the resemblance between the two bands is only skin deep — they’re both male/femme duos stripped down to bare essentials and extended to clever, almost monochrome graphic design. But the Raveonettes debut EP, “Whip It On” (Sony/Crunchy Frog), is streamlined and propulsive where the Stripes favor asymmetrically eccentric constructions. The Danish duo (expanded to a quartet on the road) ups the conceptual ante by limiting themselves to the key of B-flat minor. (They nod toward film’s Dogme 95 movement as inspiration, but thankfully, don’t press the point. In fact, it’s possible to argue that the Stripes, with their insistence on recording the just released “Elephant” on pre-1963 equipment, are closer in spirit to Lars Van Trier and his cinematic ascetics.)

Expanded to a quartet on stage, the Raveonettes cut loose, leaning heavily on feedback and sheer energy, with bassist Sharin Foo’s cool, Scandinavian beauty adding to the music’s darkly sensuous allure. Their short set makes it clear that they don’t so much write songs as gesture toward them — minimalism means never having to write a middle eight. The songs are a pastiche of drumbeats taken from Phil Spector, with a generous amount of feedback slapped on, surf and rockabilly hooks (filtered by way of the Ramones), topped with tart vocal harmonies reminiscent of the Jesus and Mary Chain. But they do it with a great deal of wit and style: their cover of Buddy Holly’s “Everyday” — slowed down and built around billows of sustain and the drum intro from “Be My Baby” — is a neat distillation of their influences.

What remains to be seen is whether the Raveonettes can sustain the potent impact of their debut; a full-length album (written in B-flat major) is due later this year.

Band performs June 2 at the Bowery Ballroom in Manhattan.

The Raveonettes

Troubadour; 450 capacity; $10

Production

Presented inhouse. Reviewed April 8, 2003.

Cast

Band: Sune Rose Wagner, Sharin Foo, Jakob Hoyer, Manoj Ramdas.
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