Adrian Cooper has been unwell

Old reviews that are no longer available online, or from sites that no longer exist. The pen is dead, long live the camera.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Raveonettes
Pretty In Black

“Here she comes walking down the street,
She’s got something you would love to meet,
It’s her heart and her heart is black,
Think of ice cream sliding into a crack.”

The Jesus And Mary Chain, ‘Here Comes Alice’

In 1985, the Jesus and Mary Chain turned their back on post-punk and new pop, preferring to take their cue from their anachronistic love of the Shirelles and the Ronettes, the Velvet Underground and the Ramones, the Beach Boys and Bob Dylan.

Likewise, the Raveonettes emerged from Denmark in 2002, paying no heed whatsoever to overriding trends, choosing instead to draw inspiration from the likes of the Shirelles and the Ronettes, the Velvet Underground and I think you can see where we’re going here.

So, the Raveonettes sound a lot like the Mary Chain. But for once, a band has taken that influence and altered it, albeit only subtly, to make that sound their own. Where the Raveonettes’s previous records, ‘Whip It On’ and ‘Chain Gang Of Love’, bought wholesale into the brothers Reid early fuzzed to the max feedback thing, ‘Pretty In Black’, as with the Mary Chain’s later ‘Stoned And Dethroned’, strips it all back to the bare bones, allowing the both the tunes and Sharin’s and Sune’s icy vocals to the fore.

Only these Danes have gone one further than their Scottish predecessors. Not only have they borrowed from their idols, they’ve managed to enlist some of them as well. Former Ronnette Ronnie Spector sings backing vocals on ‘Ode To LA’, Martin Rev of Suicide plays on three songs and Velvet’s drummer Mo Tucker crops up on another four.

Fortunately, ‘Pretty In Black’ is about more than just the guests. ‘The Heavens’ is loaded with pathos and a countrified twang reminiscent of early Neil Young; ‘Seductress Of Bums’ rewrites the Pretenders’ ‘Hymn To Her’; ‘Love In A Trashcan is only a big muff away from being the best song that didn’t make it onto ‘Whip It On’; and their cover of the Angels’ ‘My Boyfriend’s Back’ is just a call and response backing vocal away from being a ‘Leader Of The Gang’ for a new century.

While they will probably never venture too far from comforting shadow of the Mary Chain, ‘Pretty In Black’ does at least show that the Raveonettes know how to find their way into the light, and suggests that we may find them there more often in the future, albeit dressed head to toe in black and wearing wraparound shares.

“Here comes Mary,
All dressed in black,
Her heart so heavy,
A love attack,
Her dying cigarette in the rain.”

The Raveonettes, ‘Here Comes Mary’