The Raveonettes – ‘Pe’ahi’

The Danish duo's seventh album is a fuzz-drenched meditation on grief

Times got tough on The Raveonettes’ chain gang of love. 2012’s ‘Observator’ was inspired by a three-day drug bender that guitarist Sune Rose Wagner threw himself into to battle depression caused by a back injury, and their seventh album ‘Pe’ahi’ – as the titular reference to Hawaii’s nosebleed surf beach suggests – rides even greater breakers of emotion. “This old wave is gonna drag you down to the black where you always end up”, Sune sings on closer ‘Summer Ends’, while opener ‘Endless Sleeper’ sets the tone: their classic ’60s wall-of-sound garage-pop laced with a sophisticated Parisian swing and then piled thick with filthy, dense layers of Mary Chain fuzz as bassist and singer Sharin Foo laments the loss of Sune’s father: “How do you wake when your sleep it is endless?” Not that ‘Pe’ahi’ is a white-washed elegy. “One time I saw my dad fuck a red-haired whore//” Sharin intones amid the savage rave scree of ‘Kill!’, the sound of ‘XTRMNTR’ ram-raiding a Nine Inch Nails gig. Not exactly Rufus Wainwright’s ‘…Songs For Lulu’, then.

Instead Sune’s disorientating grief makes ‘Pe’ahi’, announced and released by the band on the same day, an emotional ricochet of a record. Drenching its sunny melodies in static and distortion until it sounds like My Bloody Valentine gone surfin’, it avoids slipping into moroseness, careering between the upbeat pop of, erm, ‘A Hell Below’ (in which a poltergeist Gerry & The Pacemakers stream a gig from the Other Side through your knackered radio), the fire-in-the-ballroom violence of ‘Sisters’ and the funky fuzz of ‘Killer In The Streets’, which sounds like it’s exposing a psychopathic spree. Even at its most reflective, when Sune recalls being left waiting home alone as a child on ‘Wake Me Up’, it’s steeped in soulful trip-hop that forms a cloak of nostalgia.

If ‘Pe’ahi’ is a tribute to Sune’s father, it’s a warts-and-all portrayal of a turbulent relationship, but one delivered with a tenderness and intensity that propels the very concept of the retro garage duo into a fresh sonic stratosphere. Drop in, it’s an exhilarating descent.
Mark Beaumont