The Raveonettes

Photography RJ Shaughnessy

You know their faces. The boy-girl duo staring blankly from behind eyeliner-clad eyes, leaning into your gaze like something out of a Vice magazine page or assorted web photo. You assume you know their music through these images. Maybe you assume they’re a punk band from their harsh look or maybe you assume they’re a European version of The Kills. Actually, The Raveonettes are a classic example of why not to judge a book by its cover.

Sune Rose Wagner and his partner in crime, Sharin Foo, are the musical masterminds behind the nostalgic, dream-pop found on every Raveonettes album since their first EP in 2002, Whip It On, to their forthcoming release on Vice, the powerful In and Out of Control. With each record, The Raveonettes have continued to hone their sound into a perfect contrast of lighthearted melodies and dark lyrical themes. The only thing they can be accused of changing this time around is that they’ve made an even better record to appeal to an even wider audience.

“We have  always set out to make an album, but this time we set out to make a collection of songs rather than a coherent album. All the songs that you may have heard are quite different from each other. They’re various aspects of different musical influences. Some of the songs obviously were more catchy, while others were more introvertered or gloomy,” explains guitarist and primary songwriter Wagner. “I think that for some people it’ll be a lot easier to get into. I think that if you’re familiar with the band and what we’ve done before, it will be an interesting album in the sense that we’re still doing what we’re doing. But we’re also expanding a little bit of the idea of mixing old stuff with new stuff in kind of a modern, fresh kind of way.”

Despite their initial goals, In and Out of Control has a deceptively album-like arc to it. The lead track “Bang!” kicks the album off in high gear before diving into the thoughtful and strangely modern pop of “Gone Forever.” After the album’s first single, “Last Dance,” finishes its final infectious vocal hook, the album takes on a sudden serious tone on “Boys Who Rape (Should All Be Destroyed).”

The topic hits home with Wagner. “I know people that have been physically raped. I’ve experienced what it does to a girl. All the complications of it,” she says. “It’s something I’ve always felt so strongly against that it almost, sometimes, would drive me insane. So to write that song was the perfect outlet for me to say what I feel.”

The juxtaposition of heavy topics and upbeat music has existed in their work in more subtle ways until now. “Here Comes Mary” from their Pretty in Black album handled the topic of heartbreak leading to suicide.

“I think that it’s just something that appeals to us. The dark side is always very fascinating. There’s certain aesthetics, a certain joy and happiness in life too. Life is a bit of everything. I guess that’s just what we portray.” Wagner continues, “I think our music is interesting because it has a certain contrast to it. You can take a song that sounds very sweet and pretty, but when you read the words you go, ‘What the hell is this?!’ So I think that’s how we’ve always written our songs.”

With an expanded sound, solid production work from Thomas Troelsen (the man behind Junior Senior’s “Move Your Feet” single), and classic Raveonettes songwriting, In and Out of Control has already given the duo a #1 single in their home country of Denmark and seems ready to push the band to another level upon its release this October.

– Patric Fallon