Album Review

The Raveonettes – Observator


After their fifth studio album “Raven In The Grave” in 2011 was created as a true concept album  – namely a symphony of darkness –  the Raveonettes are returning with their recent release “Observator” to sounds resembling earlier episodes of their career. This is not an accident as the producer of this recent release, Richard Gottehrer, influenced their nostalgic sound already on the album “Pretty in Black” in 2005 as producer and on their 2003 release “Chain Gang of Love” as co-producer.

So to speak this album doesn’t bring that many innovations as its gloomy predecessor that was defined by its union of wistful dreamy vocals, rumbling overdrive guitars and dark dragging drums. But as forced innovation isn’t always the best choice the Danish duo produced a balanced and typical Raveonettes album and affirm the latest musical direction of more peaceful and melancholic soundscapes like on their recent EP “Into The Night”.

heavy dose of pop that bonds with eighties’ and early nineties’ dreampop and shoegaze

Still the Raveonettes offer their bittersweet dreamy melodies, sometimes sung in duet and layered on distorted thick walls of guitars. The sound of the new album is driven by a heavy dose of pop that bonds with eighties’ and early nineties’ dreampop and shoegaze and subsists by constant mood swings between cheerfulness and melancholy. This probably is the secret of their music the balance expressed in their shady guitar play as well as in their vocals.

“Observator” features the specific musical topics of the Raveonettes that open a wide spectrum of associations ranging from night scenes to road movies. After 10 years of musical activity the soundtrack principle was perfected with “Raven In The Grave” in 2011 though. A sceptic may remark the perpetual homogeneity of the song structures and melodic patterns in the Raveonettes’ songs, but this isn’t entirely justified on “Observator”. Surely you find similarities with their predecessors, for example “Sinking With The Sun” is having melodic and structural reminiscences with “You Say You Lie”, but at the same time it’s a very catchy song like “She Owns The Street”.

Plus piano, serenity and coldness, minus noise and surf

The use of the piano on “Observator” is a novelty for the Raveonettes. The piano on “Observator” is adding a feeling of serenity and coldness that fits perfect in the spherical vocals, fuzzy guitars and echoing beats. The track “Observations” subsists of the rhythm of the piano chords in interaction with the echoing drums, small bridges of piano solos seem fragile and tender like the vocals. On “Observator” the piano and the vibrating and tearing guitars create the characteristic and stirring gloomy-playful harmony of the Raveonettes.

Facing the pop attitude of “Observations” one may regret the absence of surf guitars and gritty noise and the real dark and wild road trips some older Raveonettes songs evoked on one’s mind like “Attack Of The Ghost Riders”. If “Raven In The Grave” was the Raveonettes’ climax of a concept album, “Observator” is the climax of catchiness and bittersweet pop harmony.


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