The Raveonettes’ Chain Gang of Love isn’t the pop-accessible major label debut the album’s lead single “The Great Love Sound” suggests. The album kicks off with the infectious single and then the deceptively sunny “Remember” (sure, its “C’mon, make it right” hook and counter-melodies sound pretty, but the song is about drugs and hookers). “The Great Love Sound,” a seemingly simple tune about unrequited love, is one of many tracks that delve into singer/guitarist Sune Rose Wagner’s masochistic mind. “New York Was Great” captures a drunken night in the big city with the wide-open eyes of a foreigner: “The stars we plucked from New York skies/We placed them all in front of us and laughed.” Just as last year’s EP Whip It On hinted at the limits of these Scandinavian one-key wonders, the Raveonettes are ultimately confined by their self-imposed musical restrictions (one key signature, three chords per song, etc.). The album reprises the duo’s fuzzy, distorted guitars, wobbling basslines and noirish static-pop, but this time the rhythms are more varied and it’s all in B-flat major, which allows for a less ominous sound than the fantastically brooding Whip It On. With song titles like “The Truth About Johnny” and “Love Gang”—which fulfills The Raveonettes’ Bonnie & Clyde image—Chain Gang of Love could be the soundtrack to a murderous, perverted remake of Dirty Dancing or Grease.
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