Combining the noisy swells of the Jesus and Mary Chain with melodic elements of '50s rock & roll, Danish duo the Raveonettes are a band tied to the past, sonically and visually, but they're never afraid to give their trademark retro sound a slightly more modern update with new wave synths and hip-hop drum breaks while always staying true to their darkly dangerous vision.
Guitarist Sune Rose Wagner had tried assembling a band for several years, traveling between New York City, Las Vegas, Hollywood, and an island outside of Seattle in his search for like-minded musicians. A longtime fan of Bob Dylan, he also prized the songwriting of Buddy Holly and the harmonies of the Everly Brothers, although it was the lovely dissonance of Sonic Youth and the Jesus and Mary Chain that ultimately motivated Wagner to pursue music professionally. His stay in America didn't exactly pan out, and Wagner returned to Denmark, where he connected with bassist/vocalist Sharin Foo. A fan of the Beatles and the Velvet Underground, Foo had studied qawwali and Hindustani classical music during a six-month stay abroad.
Once formed, the Raveonettes created a set of rules that governed the creation of their first album. The project would be recorded entirely in B-flat minor, surrounded by only three chords, and each song had to be less than three minutes long. Ride cymbals were not allowed, either. What resulted from those unconventional specifications was a fuzzy, dark, cinematic set of songs entitled Whip It On, which fused classically hooky melodies with darkly applied noise. The record was released in Europe in 2002 courtesy of Crunchy Frog; soon after, the band played N.Y.C.'s CBGB, where producer Richard Gottehrer (Blondie, Joan Armatrading, the Go-Go's) caught the performance and signed up to work on the group's next album.
The Raveonettes signed a deal with Columbia Records and their first full-length, The Chain Gang of Love, was issued in September 2003. The first single from the album, "That Great Love Sound," became a minor hit, due in part to a creepy video featuring Foo and Wagner dreaming up ways to kill each other. Sessions for their next album began in late 2004, and Wagner cast aside all songwriting and recording rules (as well as guitar distortion) in favor of classic songcraft and lots of rich, lush reverb. The resulting album, 2005's Pretty in Black, featured guest spots from Suicide's Martin Rev, Ronnie Spector, and the Velvet Underground's Moe Tucker. In early 2008, the band returned to a minimalist sound with Lust Lust Lust, followed one year later by In and Out of Control. Both records were released by their new label, Vice. The band's fifth studio album, the synth-heavy new wave-inspired Raven in the Grave, featured the single "Forget That You're Young" and was released in April of 2011.
The following year, the Raveonettes rang in their tenth anniversary with the release of their sixth album and a return to noise pop with Observator. While keeping their usual low profile in between albums, Wagner stayed busy in the studio producing artists like the Dum Dum Girls, Louise Burns, and Crocodiles. The duo also found time to contribute a version of "The End" to a Doors compilation album, A Psych Tribute to the Doors, in 2014. Later that same year, the band's seventh album, the surf culture-informed Pe'ahi, was released. After taking another break, the Raveonettes decided to do things differently for their next project. In 2016, they recorded one song per month, with Wagner often providing the songs to Foo right up against the deadline. Dubbed an anti-album, the songs were offered for download each month, then collected in April of 2017 under the title 2016 Atomized. ~ MacKenzie Wilson