With its salty and sweet pairing of sunny pop with gritty punk lyricism, the Raveonettes seem poised to deliver a sly musical mash-up on In and Out of Control, or at least offer up a nicely styled diversion. Instead they squander an appealing concept, through lazy, ham-fisted combinations of these two styles, settling for agonizing dross like “Boys Who Rape,” which pairs its embarrassingly flat refrain (“Boys who rape should be destroyed”) with an equally broad sense of put-on cheeriness. This kind of juxtaposition, jovial songs about terrible things, seems like such a simple mix that it’s surprising how terribly the band handles it. Opening track “Bang” comes close to turning the summer song on its head, pairing warm-weather romanticism with suggestions of violent abuse, but settles instead for the lame copout chorus of “Kids wanna bop/Out in the street.”
Conversely, they overplay their hand on “Last Dance,” where two loaded signifiers—a last dance and a drug overdose—are slapped together. Uncreative of a metaphor as this is, the band feels it’s witty enough and leaves it largely on its own, with a lot of lazily envisioned bad poetry filling out the rest of the song. This one-note sentiment hits bottom with the “Ohhh-ohhh-oh-oh suicide” chorus of “Suicide,” spotlighting the half-assed execution of a concept that has been pounded into futility. “D.R.U.G.S.” abandons the faux-joyful delivery, pairing its gritty lyrics with slinking, moody electro-pop, but it’s a rare moment.
The weakness of the lyrics ends up overshadowing the good elements here. The songs are certainly less murky than on earlier albums: the bells on “Last Dance” have a beautiful, crystal-clear sound, and the guitar solos on “Gone Forever” and “Boys Who Rape,” free from this gloom, are excellent. If the band knew when to shut up, or at least how to not drive a promising angle into the ground, In and Out of Control would be much better off.