April 17, 2003

Whip it! Whip it Good?

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The Raveonettes’ debut, Whip it On, is a unique concept. Unique because the Danish duo, comprised of guitarist-singer-songwriter Sune Rose Wagner and bassist-vocalist Sharin Foo, laid out some peculiar ground rules for their first joint recording. The list includes performing each song with at most three chords, the duration of the tracks never exceeding three minutes, and, as denoted on the album cover, the entire record was to be “recorded in glorious Bb minor.” The end result? Well, all the songs are similar, that’s to be expected. Yet Wagner adds character to the recycled riffs by creatively varying tempo, breaking out into feverish strumming, and then alternating to calm melodies.

The minimal instruments and simple, apparent lyrics, though void of much meaning are striking, but Wagner’s and Foo’s vocals have the most lasting impression. Their perfectly complementing, subtle voices never rising above a nonchalant, indifferent tone, intensify the group’s sleek and edgy persona. The album cover and the music itself evoke a feel and vibe of another era, with bits of industrial touches for a slightly modern sound. I suppose it’s an intended reception, for Wagner cites Phil Spector and the Everly Brothers as inspiration.

The first song, “Attack of the Ghost Riders,” is fun and cooky with a catchy ’60s surfer beat. Poetic lyrics coincide with chaotic guitar on “Chains,” where a calm, collected Sune quietly sings, “Dangerous Dorothy/ Citizen girl/ Beautific angel on death row.” Sune wrote, um, “Bowels of the Beast” when inspired by the bleak desert surrounding glittering lights of Vegas. The desolate scenery is characterized by slow bluesy guitar and soulful lyrics, “Come dance with the Vegas stars tonight/