Whip It On
By: Eric Greenwood
Something dubious is afoot when clear out of the blue both Rolling Stone and MTV – your sources for the sounds of the underground, right? – are showering a previously unheard of band with unequivocal praise. Add to that the fact that the band's debut release – on the Danish label Crunchy Frog, of all things – is available at America's white trash factory, Wal-Mart. Huh? Either The Raveonettes have some hell of a public relations firm, or the band is just lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. Hype is dangerous. It'll destroy you as fast as it will build you up.
Listening to The Raveonettes' dirty garage pop does little to clear up the mystery. Sure, it sounds like retro 60's pop hidden behind the exact same gauzy cloud of feedback and distortion that The Jesus & Mary Chain used to such glorious effect on its seminal debut, Psychocandy, but it's not exactly earth-shattering. Style definitely outweighs substance in the world of The Raveonettes. Its image is immaculate, and its artwork is perfectly kitsch. However, the music is merely…pretty good.
While it's a relief to hear feedback put to such good use again, the simple three-minute formula that The Raveonettes employs does little to further any musical movement I can think of. Bandleader Sune Rose Wagner clearly understands the ins and outs of the pop song, utilizing repetition and top notch hooks to keep your ears twitching, but after about three songs you've digested everything The Raveonettes has to offer. What I'm trying to say is that dynamism is not an integral part of The Raveonettes' sound.
The opening track, "Attack Of The Ghost Riders", is as good an example as any of the band's reverb-heavy, coolly detached, retro rock. "Do You Believe Her" has an infectious hook and a pulsating drive, but so do the next song and the song after that. The sameness is tiresome, even on a record that's only about twenty-five minutes long. All this talk of "the next Blondie" or "the most exciting duo since The White Stripes" is a bit too much to stomach.
I'd probably be a lot more excited about this band were it not for so many untrustworthy people telling me how excited I should be. That's the curse of using the wrong channels to spread your message. I'm more suspicious than I am intrigued. And when the music fails to live up to gross overstatements like "this band is gonna be huge" one can't help but be a tad disappointed. It's all a damn shame, too, because Whip It On proves The Raveonettes to have much potential. It's fun, head-bobbing music, delivered with just enough attitude and indifference to make all the black-clad hipsters swoon.