Monday, August 25, 2008

The Raveonettes, "You Want the Candy"

Is there a more underappreciated band in music today than the Raveonettes? "Denis"-era Blondie, JAMC's caustic racket, 60's girl group pop, beautiful harmonies -- what's not to like? Why aren't more critics drawn to a band whose design elements read like a recipe book of beloved musical touchstones?

The Raveonettes aren't the first, or the 1000th band to be a better idea in theory than in practice. And there is no doubt that bands will continue trying (and failing) to write their own "Be My Baby" from now until the day comes when robots play and perform music in place of people (of course, the robots will fail to re-write it too). When Blondie claimed that they wanted to take 60's AM radio pop and update it for the 70's, they understood that the key word in the phrase was "AM", meaning that it's all about the three-minute pop single. Blondie weren't generally a strong albums band, but they wrote fantastic singles and that's why we still remember and adore them for it. The Raveonettes are more preoccupied with sounding a certain way, which is why their albums are packed with noise, echo, reverb, and girlie vocals that all sound so glorious, but they typically struggle to write memorable, individual songs.

With "You Want the Candy" (from their most recent album "Lust Lust Lust"), they've finally written their "You Trip Me Up", and provided another data point in the decades-long quest for confirmation of the "Candy Rule" (i.e. songs with "Candy" in the title never suck*). It's all here, the furious, galloping beat a la the Mary Chain's "Never Understand"; sly, titillating sexuality in the lyrics and delivery, and a chorus that's stickier than superglue. Naturally, it's all over in three minutes, but during that time they milk that chorus for all it's worth, cramming it in four times (plus a double dose of it at the end) and yet it's still not enough, as once the song is over I'm basically forced to skip back in the song to hear it a couple more times before finally being satisfied. Like all the best choruses, this one needs no buildup. They launch into it right from the beginning of the song and right away you're getting smacked in the face by distortion, vibraphones, and gooey two-part boy-girl harmonies. The verses are almost gravy after that, as would be the other forty minutes of the album, but the quality remains high until the end, making "Lust Lust Lust" the strongest work of the band's career to this point.

*with the exception of Marcy Playground's "Sex and Candy", which is arguably the worst song ever

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