‘Pe’ahi’ is a Hawaiian cove noted for its wildly unpredictable surfing conditions: beautiful shimmering waters masking a deadly undertow. The Raveonettes – now based in LA, but originally from the famous surf city of Copenhagen – could hardly have picked a more fitting title for this masterclass in tempestuous art-pop, released without warning today.
Just beneath the surface of ‘Pe’ahi’ lurk jagged rocks aplenty. ‘One time I saw my dad fuck a redhead whore,’ spits Sune Rose Wagner on standout track ‘Kill!’, and on lead single ‘Sisters’ we learn that ‘smiling faces always pretend’. The joy is in the juxtaposition: these vicious, vituperative volleys are honey-glazed with tinkly-bell production and delivered in butter-wouldn’t-melt sotto voce. All the malevolence and icy discord (apparently influenced by the death of Wagner’s father last Christmas) is the more potent for the fact it’s only glimpsed fleetingly through the churning synths.
There’s a hint of garage rock around the edges, too: ‘Killer in the Streets’ hammers a simple three-chord progression underpinned by bouncing, finger-picked bass, and opener ‘Endless Sleeper’ is all dark fuzz and tetchy ride cymbal. It’s capable of surprising and delighting on many levels, but above all ‘Pe’ahi’ is a thoroughly enjoyable skim across the top of the Danish duo’s murky, unknowable fathoms.
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