The Raveonettes: Chain Gang Of Love (2003)

The Raveonettes are one of my go-to bands when I absolutely need to play something loud enough to peel the paint off the walls.  We all get those moods, and the Raveonettes gladly oblige.

Is the debt they owe to the Jesus and Mary Chain's Psychocandy obvious (particularly on their earlier albums)?  You bet.  Their full-length debut is practically a Psychocandy rewrite, distinguished by the interplay of Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo's vocals.  Yet tons of post-J&MC bands buried pop songs beneath a sheen of distortion; the formula only works if the band has the chops to write killer pop songs.  And the Raveonettes have those chops in spades.

Beyond the paired male-female vocals, the band also changes things up by relying more on 50s and 60s girl-group stylings than the J&MC.  They also, for some reason, add a minor gimmick in having every song on the album played in the same key (as the album cover says, Bb major -- in contrast to the preceding EP, which was played entirely in Bb minor).  Yet somehow this adds a thematic sound to the album without become unduly repetitive (though later albums did offer much greater stylistic variety once they dropped the gimmick).  (Also, I'd be remiss not to mention that the Danish band is visually striking, guitarist Wagner's dark Jim & William Reid looks (yeah, he takes the Psychocandy thing pretty seriously) offset against guitarist/bassist Foo's blonde bombshell scene-stealing presence.)

The stand-out here is "That Great Love Sound," an insanely killer pop single, shiny distorted perfection with tremendous use of loud-soft-loud dynamics.  Is it the sort of song I can play on auto-repeat a dozen times without losing interest? Yeah.  Gonna do that right now...

Ok, that was nice.  What else do we have?  The slow-burn opener "Remember," their take on "Just Like Honey"; the beach-friendly "Noisy Summer"; the wailing Buddy Holly update "Let's Rave On" (not a cover); surf rocker "Heartbreak Stroll"; and on and on.

I can't really say whether this is my favorite Raveonettes album; most of their releases have had at least a couple tracks that have me jumping and screaming ("Dead Sound" alone makes the later Lust Lust Lust a terrific release).  But this is a great starting point.

Here's the (awesome!) video for "That Great Love Sound":
(And, in the alternative, here's "Love Sound" live on Letterman.)
Here's a live "Heartbreak Stroll":
 ...and a slightly muddy live take on "Let's Rave On":