Raveonettes Continue to Deliver Reliably Infectous Shoegaze in “Observator”

Since 2001, the Raveonettes have been pumping out reverb-heavy indie rock. Many credit them with inspiring a whole wave of noise pop bands, including acts like the Vivian Girls and Best Coast. Over 10 years later, and following their seventh full-length release, the Raveonettes continue to seem as though they’ve settled in a safe and comfortable nesting place.
Look up observator, and you’ll find that it simply refers to one who observes or notices. And not surprisingly, the band’s newest album moves along with the energy and sustain of one who simply observes rather than participates. But this semi-sedentary state reveals a lot about the maturation of a duo songwriting team, Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo, and how they’ve adapted after living through the rise, decline and fall of many bands who have emulated their sound.
Today, a decade is a long time for a project to stay together, and the pair have withstood the test of time, but like anyone else, they couldn’t withstand the impact of gravity or the pressures of a fast-paced, ever-changing music scene forever. To deal with this, some bands dramatically change over the years, and well, others simply choose to settle into their characteristic sound; the Raveonettes have clearly done the latter. In Observator, there are still the lush, hazy landscapes and catchy, 50s rock inspired melodies, but they are delivered with the feel of a band that has decided to retire in a sense; as a result, there are no new sonic avenues to travel for those who are familiar with the Raveonettes’ sound. And that might be just fine for some listeners.
Not surprisingly, after settling into their world of reverb surrounded storytelling, the Raveonettes have focused on a relatable, almost self-reflective theme in their latest release: the fear of growing old and out of date too fast. Speaking of a place where things and people get old fast, LA, the band’s new album was initially inspired by this infamous metropolis. There’s imagery of the city (not restricted to LA) and the people who inhabit it, such as on songs like “She Owns the Streets” and “Downtown.” Pretty fuzz backdrops make stories about presumably Valium-loaded street wanderers seem less unsettling.
The Raveonettes are long past their days as turn of the millennium, noise pop innovators, and may be getting older and more comfortable with their sound, but their songs still have a catchy, mellifluous and even fresh, airiness that feels far from old.