“Black/White” – the Raveonettes

The Raveonettes, the fuzzy, atmospheric, neo-retro duo from Denmark, have an enviable knack for making cool songs, and making it seem easy, except of course it’s not, otherwise everyone would be making cool songs. (Which they’re not, when last I checked.) The whole, as usual for these guys, exceeds the sum of the parts, which, initially, are straightforward: a nimble, repeating bass line, fuzzed-up beats, deadpan vocals, and a distant guitar melody that has surely been lifted from some garage-rock nugget from the 1960s, or should have been. The first juxtaposition of that guitar against that contemporary beat (at 0:36) is what, I think, propels this song into full coolness–and then, all the better, the second time, when the beat itself retreats into the blurry distance, along with the guitar (1:18).

So we’re slinking along like that, the imperturbable Sharin Foo cooing the noir-ish lyrics (that’s her on the bass as well), introducing each guitar break with a detached “yeah yeah yeah,” but check out the feedback that lingers after the second break (1:31), and note the barely discernible presence of another guitar, scratching at the edge of the sound for the third verse, waiting for something. That something turns out to be the Raveonettes’ signature electronic noise, which rushes into the song at 1:56, complete with an old-fashioned powering-up effect, and, with that extra guitar in the background, fleshes out the recurring guitar line with a very gratifying burst of well-textured racket.

In the end, not a moment in this perfect-pop-length song is misplaced, and maybe that is truly the root of its mysterious appeal, as the duo generates complexity via uncanny control of relatively simple specifics. “Black/White” can be found on the band’s digital-only EP Beauty Dies, which was released last week on Vice Records, the third of four EPs scheduled out in 2008.




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