THE RAVEONETTES Danish duo de-fuzzes, quiets down for third album
The band takes a sharp departure from the noisy pop of their previous releases.
CLEVELAND -- Where's the fuzz?
This is perhaps the biggest question surrounding the release of The Raveonettes' third album "Pretty in Black," which unlike previous releases from this Danish duo is decidedly lacking in guitar distortion.
While stylistic experimentation is universally lauded as the key to lasting success, critics have thoroughly been perplexed that band visionary and songwriter Sune Rose Wagner would even consider toying with the noisy pop formula of 2003's "The Chain Gang of Love."
Change of pace
"I do enjoy fuzz a lot but we were just under the impression that we think 'Chain Gang of Love' is such an amazing album that there was no reason to try to do another one of these because there is no way we can top that," Wagner said, calling from a tour stop in North Carolina. "I think we were so locked into this noisy band kind of thing that people are surprised we didn't do it. We've always liked noise but I don't listen to noise music. I listen to all of the old '50s stuff, which is just nice and clean and charming. The Everly Brothers, there is nothing fuzzy about them."
Wearing its '50s rock music influence on its sleeve, The Raveonettes emerged two years ago with its own unique take on the garage rock scene. Sensing the band had indie cred in its pocket, Wagner eschewed any pressure to release "The Chain Gang of Love II." Instead, he opted for an album crafted around vocal harmony that showcased the band's diversity.
It's not a stretch to think about diehard fans eagerly unwrapping "Pretty In Black" hoping for another lesson in guitar pop only to hear the somber notes of "The Heavens." From this opening moment on "Pretty in Black," it's obvious this 13-track album is filled with different colors The Raveonettes have yet to display.
"For us to choose 'The Heavens' as an opening track is a huge statement because people would expect us to come out with a big, loud, noisy song and then we do the most quiet song we've ever done," Wagner said. "So it's definitely a statement but also it was just the right way to start the record and then it goes off into all kinds of different moods and vibes with the other songs and ends on a very solemn note with 'If I Was Young.' It's sort of like everything else is wrapped around it."
A cornerstone of the album is a cover of the Angels' '60s classic "My Boyfriend's Back," which fits like a glove into The Raveonettes pre-Beatles invasion aesthetic. The duo is currently giving stage time to this classic cover, as well as Eddie Cochrane's "Come on Everybody." Ironically, Wagner says he has re-embraced the guitar fuzz when performing live. This tidbit of information should give fans of the band something to look forward to when The Raveonettes play a return engagement at the Beachland Ballroom on Monday.
"It's my favorite venue in the States," Wagner said. "The Beachland Ballroom is amazing. I love it there. Every time I go in there it feels like I'm going to the prom in 1955. People there are really cool. I love that place a lot."
The notion of Wagner attending a 1955 prom requires further examination. As in, who would be his date?
"I don't know, maybe Jayne Mansfield," Wagner said. "That would be kind of cool."