I moved to New York City in November 2006 and like anyone who makes a move to Gotham, I made a beeline for old friends as soon as I got here. Amongst the oldest and closest I could call on were Sharin Foo and Sune Rose Wagner. Even now, we still talk about that evening we all first met regularly. It was a freezing night just before Christmas 2002 in my hometown of Coventry, England. I was a 21 year old wannabe rock ‘n’ roll writer, still at university and mainly concerned with getting wasted, they were a wannabe rock ‘n’ roll band from Denmark, touring their first single ‘Attack Of The Ghost Riders’ and also mainly concerned with getting wasted. We got on very well funnily enough. That night, I was DJing between bands and they asked me to spin ‘Dancing In The Streets’ before they went on which I- as a long time Martha & The Vandellas lover- was only too happy to do. 45 minutes later, I looked at the other 15 people in the room with the expression of someone who had just been pistol-whipped by some of the darkest and noisiest pop music I’d heard in some time- and I saw the exact same expressions looking back at me.
Over the next four years, I’d see Sharin and Sune more than I see some of my family and it was thrilling to watch how more and more people took to them. The Mary-Chain-meets-Motown blasts of their debut EP ‘Whip It On’ in 2002 had no trouble finding a home in the hipster-heartland but when the first full length album ‘Chain Gang Of Love’ hit the shelves the following year, its lighter surf-pop shades helped The Raveonettes reach the broader audience they so clearly warranted. Whilst these two efforts clearly had the same monochromatic bloodline, 2005 ‘Pretty In Black’ excised the noise and let the songs shine yet maintained the vintage dynamic that by now set them apart from virtually every contemporary guitar band. But being so unique amongst your peers can also leave you with a few problems and that’s what I encountered barely two days after arriving in New York. Having spent the weekend looking at a succession of armpits and ‘roach-motels (otherwise known as a typical NYC apartment hunt), I went around to Sune’s place on a damp Sunday night and found him buried in a mountain of songs- most of which were pretty good. But at the same time, we both knew that they weren’t good enough simply because they sounded just like The Raveonettes as the world already knew them. Forwards is the only direction- that’s why I was in New York and that’s also why around 100 songs were scrapped in the making of the album you have in you hand.
Coasting is the easy option. Having the balls to recognize that things aren’t right and doing something about them is much harder. It may have taken Sune and Sharin a little while but they made the right decision in the end- both personally and creatively- and ‘Lust, Lust, Lust’ is where the two worlds collide. The songs cover the toughest decisions, the fondest of memories, the scariest of fears and the most tempting of desires all from the most personal viewpoint yet captured in The Raveonettes back-catalogue. How do I know? Well, Sune, Sharin and I have talked about the first three at great length but I’m not telling you what they said- ask them yourself. As for the last one, let’s just say I’ve had my innocent sleep murdered by the sound of Danish heavy-petting coming through thin hotel walls more than once. Subsequently, I can attest that this is an album that explores the devil in us all but the devil has all the best tunes and that’s exactly what makes ‘Lust, Lust, Lust’ such an alluring listen. At every turn, there’s a sound or an emotion that stops you dead in your tracks with its power, whether it’s the cascading sadness of ‘The Beat Dies’ the lullaby-like melody of ‘With My Eyes Closed’ or the quiet agonizing that bleeds through the fabric of ‘Lust’. Aside from the sombre heart that lies at the centre of ‘Lust, Lust, Lust’, there are also book-ending extremes that stretch the Raveonettes’ sound further than anyone has ever heard. ‘Aly Walk With Me’ for example marries the quiet-loud trick to a hypnotizing groove that sounds like the Velvet Underground going hip-hop. Meanwhile, ‘You Want The Candy’ is the band at their most bubblegum but of course, there’s nothing innocent about the tantalizing treat Sune and Sharin are offering you. And for sheer bleakness, there’s no getting past the dissonant strums of ‘Expelled From Love’- or its emotionally telegraphed title for that matter. With so much of the album being inspired by things so close to home, it’s shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that the album was entirely self-recorded and self produced. I mean, you wouldn’t want someone else trying to suggest how to improve your diary would you?
If you know what it’s like to feel, think or act unwholesomely, then ‘Lust, Lust, Lust’ is an album that will invade your mind with plenty of home truths. If you’ve lived your life without sin then have a listen anyway and you never know, it might awaken something in you never realized- or never wanted to realize- was there.
Do you want some “candy”, little kid? Go on. You might like it…
(From a reasonably ‘roach-free apartment), Brooklyn, August 2007.