Review – The Raveonettes – Observator

There hardly seems a better spirit guide to shepherd a drunken vision quest than Jim Morrison. Channeling the spirit of the Lizard King and participating in alcohol steered benders facilitates interesting encounters and hopefully uninhibited writing. This gonzo-lyricism was the genesis for Observator, the new album from The Raveonettes. Bandmates Sun Rose Wagner (who you might have met stumbling around L.A. on said bender) and Sharin Foo bring Wagner’s reality and fantasy to life through songs blurred by intoxicants and re-examined by depression. An album written in between blackouts and lucidity, Observator furthers The Raveonettes’ reputation of creating “dreamy” music.

“It’s ironic that I traveled so far to seek out ghosts from rock ‘n’ roll’s past when in actual fact, it was the vibrant living souls of today that I needed most. After the boredom of Venice Beach, I hailed a cab bound for the excitement of Hollywood. I ended up spending the next four days in a Benzo trance, drinking, eating, talking and soaking up the real lives of the people I encountered. It’s always been this way- I get a lot of my ideas when I’m out. I get drunk and have moments of lucidity where I scribble down notes and thoughts. The next day, I’ll start channeling the thoughts I had the previous night. I once read that Lars Von Trier writes his films in a similar kind of way. He goes home, gets super drunk and then he starts writing and all his inhibitions disappear. That’s sort of always worked for me too but this time, I had to go the long way round to remember that.”

Sun Rose Wagner, July 2012

There is of course the obvious problem of doing any creative work while on mind-altering substances: Is it any good? The most profound ideas are later realized as banal observations when the drugs wear off. But Wagner was on to something, stumbling over truths and eschewing the first impressions that so many of us make.

I wanna know her,
I wanna ask her,
I wanna know where she did go wrong.

Is it Valium, is it all drugs?
Or is it just every day fun?

“She Owns the Streets” was written in 20 minutes after Wagner’s conversations with a woman who streetdances down on the Bowery; her knowing she must be perceived as either crazy or on drugs, while she views herself as an artist. There isn’t pity, but rather a tragic admiration for this woman, who doesn’t live her life based on what is and isn’t socially acceptable.

“The Enemy”, sung by Foo, is a confession of duplicity veiled in apologetic tones. On this track, Foo’s vocals are feathery, floating faintly atop the music.

Observator is available now in stores and on iTunes. The Raveonettes perform at Webster Hall on October 5th.


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