The Raveonettes: Points of Departure
No band is an island. The best songwriters tend to be sponge-like soaker-uppers of music, film, fine art, literature and other forms of culture, be they popular or obscure, and these influences often find their way into the music, helping listeners branch out and develop new interests. With Points of Departure, we use our favorite groups as springboards for broader cultural investigations and highlight some of the cool things you might get into via your record collection. This week: the Raveonettes.
Fifties Teen Rebel Movies
If the retro-styled movie poster on the cover of Danish indie rock duo the Raveonettes’ 2003 major-label debut album, ‘Chain Gang of Love’ — which pictures founders Sherin Foo and Sune Rose Wagner decked out in black leather jackets and cruising on motorcycles — doesn’t quite tip you off to their love of ’50s rebel teen movies, then maybe the title does. Cinema classics like ‘The Wild Ones,’ which starred Marlon Brando, and ‘Rebel Without a Cause,’ which was toplined by James Dean, have long been major influences on the Raveonettes, from the cinematic cover art of 2005’s ‘Pretty In Black’ to the old school vibe summoned in the lyrics of ‘Chain Gang of Love,’ populated by the same leather-clad, knife-carrying biker youths searching for teenage kicks that Foo and Wagner portrayed on the cover.
The Raveonettes have often drawn comparisons to bands on the British independent record label 4AD, among them the Cocteau Twins and Lush, but it’s their latest album, ‘Observator,’ that really solidified the connection. 4AD was founded in 1979 by Ivo Watts-Russell and Peter Kent and is known as much for its visually distinctive design identity — as developed initially by graphic designer Vaughn Oliver — as for its trademark effects-laden, ethereal guitar atmospherics and pop melodies. British noise-pop outfit the Jesus and Mary Chain has also long been cited as a touchstone for the Raveonettes, but ‘Observator,’ which dropped in September, has been garnering more comparisons to the 4AD sound, with the tracks ‘She Owns the Streets’ and the titled track particular noted for their combination of swirling guitars and crisp pop melodies.
The Ravenottes’ music is frequently described as cinematic, and one name that comes up again and again is David Lynch. The dreamlike, noisy sound heard on albums like 2007’s ‘Lust Lust Lust’ fits right in with the iconic director’s trademark mix of stylized neo-noir and surreal, often violent imagery. Hell, the Raveonettes even have a song titled ‘Aly, Walk With Me’ — no doubt a reference to Lynch’s 1992 flick ‘Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me,’ the cinematic prequel to his famous TV show ‘Twin Peaks.’ “I always wanted to do a David Lynch movie, but not any movie,” Wagner once told Self-Titled Daily. “I don’t want to do one of the crazy strange ones that he sometimes does, but more a ‘Twin Peaks’ kinda vibe.”