The Raveonettes, the Danish duo of Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo, have been one of the most prolific and hard-working bands of the last decade. Sadly, prolificacy doesn’t doesn’t necessarily garner your attention, and can even often make casual fans weary of the constant stream of new music. The Raveonettes don’t seem to have let this slow them down though, and even though many might have fallen off the bandwagon as they released album after album (following their first 3, they released 4 more between 2009 and 2014), they forge on in their creative force. Their ambitions coagulated into their Rave-Sound-Of-The-Month project last year, where they released a brand new track each month, and by the end of the 12 they had completed their ‘anti-album’: 2016 Atomized.
Even though each of the 12 songs on the album have been available for free download as the band released them, they are now releasing the album as a complete package. The idea behind the original Rave-Sound-Of-The-Month project was to allow the duo to do something different each month, with no constrictions to try and make all the songs cohesive. It’s quite surprising, or possibly slightly disappointing, that 2016 Atomized actually does flow together like a normal album when played from beginning to end. Aside from a few obvious outliers, like the floaty pop number ‘Scout’ and sappy ballad ‘Where Are Your Wild Horses?’, the album sounds like it was written and recorded in a normal fashion. This isn’t necessarily because the songs are all the same style – there is a decent amount of variation in their approach – but due to the weightless vocal and melodic approach, often layered in a slightly fuzzy sheen, making the songs sound less disparate than they might have.
The highlights come when the songs are underscored by punchy percussion, giving the tracks a slightly sultry groove. Opener ‘My World Is Empty’ tows a similar line of dark and dancy as Chromatics, while ‘EXCUSES’ uses atmospheric interjections and production to emphasise the noir-esque mood. Tracks where they get a bit more outside of their comfort zone, like the intergalactic doo-wop of ‘This Is Where It Ends’, are less successful, but do provide an insight into their different creative ideas. It’s certainly better than when they get sappy, which is a mode they try out several times on the album. ‘Where Are Your Wild Horses?’, ‘Run Mascara Run’ and ‘Choke On Love’ are all as overwrought as their titles suggest, and if you’re in a generous mood they’re enjoyable, but a more confrontational sound is much more suited to the Danish pair.
More often than perhaps they might have liked, The Raveonettes slip back into their more typical approach: fuzz-pop-rockers – but they’ve become so proficient in them that they never feel like a drag. Their ode to video game sound designer, ‘Junko Ozawa’, is a furious blur of noise, which sees Foo lashing out viciously at a former lover, and herself for being too trusting, underscored nicely by 8-bit-esque electronics. ‘Why Won’t You Leave Me Alone’ is a similarly spikey, straightforward rocker, replete with the kind of blissful hook the band became known for. ‘A Good Fight’ hops back and forth between heads-down rocking and mellow piano interludes, jerking you back and forth in a delightful manner.
The Raveonettes signed off their 2016 Rave-Sound-Of-The-Month project, and thus end this album, with the 12-minute ‘PENDEJO’. An obvious attempt to do something slightly different, as evidenced purely from the title and the length, the song is a classic album closer in the sense that it is the long slow come down from a heady concoction. It takes the simplistic percussion groove and spacey atmosphere they’ve used well throughout the album and seems to just let it naturally unfold over its run time. It’s possibly the most patient The Raveonettes have ever been, and is an elegant bow that neatly ties together this compelling project from one of indie rock’s mainstays, and shows that they still have plenty to offer going forward.