On their seventh album, Pe’ahi — named in tribute to Maui’s north-shore surf break — The Raveonettes embark on a noise-pop surfin’ safari of sorts. More precisely, the record is an homage to West Coast surf culture filtered through the lens of guitarist Sune Rose Wagner’s recent loss of his womanizing, alcoholic father. In the aftermath, Wagner has concocted an aquatic, stream-of-consciousness concept album that addresses the negative effects of infidelity on the children of narcissistic parents. The fuzzed-out “A Hell Below” and bit-crushed guitar squall of “Kill!” tackle Wagner’s childhood trauma of walking in on his father and a redhead, while the string-laden and melancholic “Wake Me Up” finds him wondering whether he’s doomed to repeat his dad’s mistakes. Other themes include the heartbroken who look for salvation in nostalgia (the gorgeous “The Rains of May”) and the creative and revolutionary spirit of the disenfranchised Zephyr skate crew youth of Santa Monica in the ’70s (the transcendent “Z-Boys”). Instead of an “Endless Summer,” the Danish duo offer up “Endless Sleeper,” inspired by Wagner’s near-death experience while surfing in Hawai‘i. In a nod to the Doors, the opening bars of the song slyly salute the 4/4 time of “Break on Through (To the Other Side),” though they sound as if they’re being played by Dick Dale. Later, album closer “Summer Ends” finds Wagner placing his father’s ghost full fathom five. As usual, The Raveonettes’ dark beauty and Everly Brothers–style harmonies juxtaposed with Jesus and Mary Chain–esque guitar distortion prevail, and though Wagner’s lyrics sometimes come across as gauche, the songs and Justin Meldal-Johnsen’s excellent production skills raise Pe’ahi to great heights. Prepare to ride the wild sonic surf.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
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