‘Tuned In’ review: Raveonettes outlook fuzzy on ‘Observator’

'Observator' by The Raveonettes

"Observator" by The Raveonettes

The Raveonettes stick to their shtick on the new “Observator,” a noisy/melodic melange of retro-girl-group chic, distortion and more.

Can’t blame the Danish duo for doing what put them on the map 10 years ago. But still, it’s getting old.

Once again, Sune Rose Wagner (guitars, vocals, songwriting) and Sharin Foo (vocals, bass) sound like they’re in a warehouse, disguising fetching vocal melodies and harmonies with abrasive feedback.

Fortunately, “Observator” isn’t just squalls of garage-rock clamor glamour: There are nuances of indie shoegazer pop and riot grrrl music as well as traces of the Everly Brothers and post-apocalyptic punk. The momentum of “Observator” crescendos to a mid-album peak as The Raveonettes use their force for good (not evil) in the willowy, subliminal sunniness of “The Enemy” and ramble into surf-music-at-high-tide on the subsequent “Sinking With the Sun.” The back-to-back tracks are alluring, like broken glass casting multi-hued shimmer from its jagged edges.

There’s also ragdoll charm in the softness of Foo’s voice on “You Hit Me (I’m Down)” and “Curse the Night,” crushed in the instrumental grind.

Otherwise, the release is as affectedly unfocused as the grainy/multi-image/dark-on-the-edges photo on the cover of “Observator.” The Raveonettes seem helplessly shackled to their need to dirty up their sound in the murky arrangements of “Downtown” and “She Owns the Streets,” while the faux-provocative “Observations” clangs in a purgatorial mix of meditative and metallic.

Opening track “Young and Cold” sets an ominous tone, its needlessly aggressive strum underscoring the fear-filled refrain, “So many restless souls, I don’t wanna be young and cold.”

With Wagner and Foo both on the brink of 40, they need not worry about the young thing.

And as for the cold part, they show enough warmth here to prove they can change up their sound.

Rating: 3 stars (out of five)

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