Imagine a two-piece BRMC if they’d grown up in a sub-zero landscape in Denmark where the only cultural sign-posts are trashy sado-pulp novels, distorted [a]Velvet Underground[/a] bootlegs and endless re-runs of Marlon Brando in classic biker-flick ‘The Wild One’. Welcome to The Raveonettes.
First things first: singer-guitarist Sune Rose Wagner smoulders from the sleeve wearing an open-necked black shirt, a sleek angora quiff and just a trace of a strychnine smile. Next to him, six-foot blonde bassist Sharin Foo glares like the pissed-off younger sister of Nina from The Cardigans.
The combined visual effect is like a Nordic [a]White Stripes[/a] after a harrowing spell with ’70s terrorist pin-ups, the Baader-Meinhoff gang.
Track one ‘Attack Of The Ghost Riders’ starts up. It sounds like a cartoon Cramps playing The Shangri-Las’ ‘Leader Of The Pack’ in an industrial deep-freeze. The lyrics are even better. “Lipstick on my face/ Thunder in the sky/ The shades are drawn/ Don’t ask me why,” drones Sune, clearly enjoying himself. ‘Cops On Our Tail’ finds the duo, inevitably, cast as a rockabilly Bonnie & Clyde heading toward a late night rendezvous at the crossroads. By ‘Chains’ Sune’s given up on the real world altogether and is instead reading the blurbs off the back of porno pulp novels (“Alcoholic Ann/ Violent girl/ Another angel on Death Row”).
Like a junkie Hives, The Raveonettes lurk malevolently on the knife-edge of self-parody. Whenever things look as if they’re really going wrong, a dreamy, Blondie-like tunefulness comes to their aid and turns their garage-fuzz into molten pop. ‘Veronica Fever’ is a sleazy S&M rumble, ‘Do You Believe Her’ a cold-blooded two-minute spasm of rattle’n’roll. By the time Sune gets to erm, Bowels Of The Beast (“Come fuck with the Vegas lights tonight”) you realise these are songs Howlin’ Pelle will never be equipped to sing. In 28 frazzled minutes it’s all over.
It’s early days. Clumsy drum machines may threaten to derail ‘Whip It On’ at regular intervals, but a garage rock evangelism puts The Raveonettes ahead of the chasing pack on gonzo points alone. As final kiss-off ‘Beat City’ has it: “Wanna die in Beat City and run run run/ Wanna hang with girls and shoot my gun”.
‘Whip It On”s tunes may well give you goosebumps but its clammy blues will give you the shivers too.