“We always set out to write the perfect pop song,” confesses Sune Rose Wagner, the male half of Denmark’s The Raveonettes.
Ever since they first appeared seven years ago using vicious degrees of feedback, Wagner and Sharin Foo have remained a vital and dependable source for perfect pop songs.
Beginning with 2002’s mini album Whip It On, through four full-length albums and last year’s series of EPs, on each release the duo have always managed to achieve their goal of reaching pop perfection.
In and Out of Control’s lead single Last Dance is their finest bid yet. A sickly sweet prom night anthem with soaring harmonies and a candy coating instead of their usual noise-drenched sheen, it sounds like it was lifted right out of Sixteen Candles.
“Sometimes you succeed and that’s the case with Last Dance. I think That Great Love Sound (from 2003’s Chain Gang of Love) is a perfect pop song but the production is too harsh to win people over. The production on Last Dance is interesting because it melts ’60s with ’80s and sweetness with dark lyrics. It’s a very different kind of pop song.”
Actually, the band’s fourth album is filled with “very different kinds of pop songs,” which Wagner feels reflect the definition of the band.
“The Raveonettes stands for a lot of things,” he explains. “Each song was treated individually and as we were progressing I felt the need to keep writing and adding songs to make it even more varied.”
Brought to life using layers and layers of distortion, sweet, but deadly boy-girl vocals, driving drum machine rhythms and the odd synthesizer, from the titles alone, the album paints vivid portraits of rebellion, depravity and classic Hollywood romanticism.
“The songs are about my life around me and my thoughts on various subjects such as violence, suicide, love and rape,” Wagner explains.
Yes, he said rape. And one look at In and Out of Control’s track listing and songs like D.R.U.G.S. and Suicide pale next to one called Boys Who Rape (Should All Be Destroyed). What’s funny is how such a brazen title became one of the catchiest, albeit most uncomfortable jingles of the year.
“I’ve always loathed rapists and think they’re the lowest of the low,” admits Wagner. “I thought we needed an up-tempo song so I wrote that song really fast and we made it sound frantic and crazy with the unusual beat. Sharin’s voice was perfect for the song because of the sweetness in her voice singing some very confrontational words.”
Adds Wagner, “I had an idea but people really picked up on it in a big way I must say. I like that, it’s a fine song with a clear message.”
The Raveonettes play
Toronto: the Phoenix Concert Theatre on Oct 22., $18.50
Vancouver: the Venue on Nov. 5. Tickets are $20.