The Raveonettes - In and Out of Control (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Raveonettes

In and Out of Control (2009)


To the outside world, the Raveonettes are mere Jesus and Mary Chain noise fetishists, which is redundant and stupid and really not that fair. The duo of Sun Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo has constantly evolved since their debut, Whip It On. What began as an excuse to write a bunch of songs in the same key evolved into a fine blend of goth, bubblegum, '50s rock ‘n' roll, surf and shoegaze on 2005's Pretty in Black. Followup Lust Lust Lust found the band exploring their more droning side, and the album is a monolith of noise. A trio of nifty EPs released near the end of 2008 (Beauty Dies, Sometimes They Drop By, and Wishing You a Rave Christmas) radically shifted that dynamic, adding dreamy electronic elements that recall Cocteau Twins and My Bloody Valentine circa "Soon" than pure JAMC. New album In and Out of Control polishes that sound up a bit with a poppier bent.

Taken as a whole, In and Out of Control is the Raveonettes' most accessible album yet. While there are a few callbacks to the band's original sound, like "Heart of Stone," for the most part, it's a slick goth pop record in the '80s sense of the phrase. That comes with a price, as fans of drone will likely call Control "overproduced." But it's also their catchiest, most danceable collection. And while the record sheds much of the band's garage rock sound, it's still awfully dark lyrically. "Boys Who Rape (Should All Be Destroyed)" is the bluntest anti-rape song since Tori Amos' "Me and a Gun," and it's a pop song. The Raveonettes could have used the melody to sell teen rom-coms and cars and fashionable clothes, but instead they employ it as sugarcoating for lines like "They rip you to shreds / Make you feel useless / You'll never forget / Those fuckers stay in your head / Boys who rape should all be destroyed."

A lot of the songs follow that same direct approach while describing past relationships and abuse. "Suicide" flirts with a teenage girl's madcap New York City night, although it ends in the East River. Soft closing track "Wine" hits the listener with a montage of images ("You / Me / Stars / Asleep") before lamenting the end of summer. Über-catchy Ramones love letter "Gone Forever" and the stomper "Last Dance" cover the same topic with better beats and hooks.

While the music is certainly restrained compared to Lust Lust Lust, In and Out of Control is a perfect title for a concept album about being young and in love and in a bad place. The upbeat music gives the lyrics a romantic vibe, making the best pretty songs for sad people this side of the Cure.