The line on Danish duo The Raveonettes has long been that its albums all sound more or less the same, but its songs are so wildly hooky that filtering them through one narrowly fuzzy, reverberating retro style hasn’t been such a crime. Still, it’s a mild shock to fire up the new Raven In The Grave and—after a few seconds of the standard distorted-guitar-over-pounding-drums drone—hear the band add additional waves of dissonance and dreamy hum, sounding more like My Bloody Valentine covering New Order, not Jesus & Mary Chain or The Cramps.
There are only nine songs on Raven In The Grave, and each runs a minute or two longer than The Raveonettes’ standard three-minute pop ditties, evoking the spaciousness of early-’80s new wave and post-punk. They’re less catchy than usual too, although that isn’t a knock. Songs like the soft, beachy “Summer Moon” and the stark, downbeat “War In Heaven” aren’t aiming for quick gut reactions; they’re designed to seep. Raven In The Grave is unmistakably a Raveonettes album: Even the synthesizer arrives caked in crud, and Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo’s cooing vocals don’t change much even when they’re whispering. But the band seems to have taken its cues from the title of the album’s opening song, “Recharge & Revolt.” Raven In The Grave is a reminder of what it was like to hear The Raveonettes’ gloomy romanticism and bottomless echo for the first time.