The fourth full-length album from The Raveonettes is possibly the first in history to have been put together based on feedback from Twitter, where fans offered constructive criticism on demos as they were revealed to the public. I'm generally a skeptic where mob rule is involved, but after a few listens I have to say that there might just be something to taking advice 140-characters at a time. In and Out of Control is a polished piece of work that, like previous Raveonettes efforts, combines a 1960s "girl group" vibe with '80s New Wave sensibilities and '90s shoegazey atmospherics. It's equal parts pink and black and polished chrome, at once nostalgic and retro and cutting-edge, deadly serious and tongue-in-cheek; in short, everything one might expect from a band that cites influences as disparate as The Shangri-Las, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Buddy Holly and David Bowie.
Album opener "Bang!" kicks the album off as abruptly as The Marvelettes "Please Mr. Postman," a popgun to your temple that deftly mingles a pseudo-innocent toe-tapping beat with distinctly NSFW lyrics. Heading back to the future, "Last Dance" drifts into the '80s with a Hughesian synth-laden melody that belies lyrics telling a tale of a lover on the verge of a final overdose; it's at once sentimental and ludicrously dark, a big pink birthday cake with strychnine frosting. Much the same must be said of "Boys Who Rape (Should All Be Destroyed)," albeit perhaps a bit more literally in the case of this rather direct call for... well, read the title. It's the most radio- friendly call to murder in recent history, that's for certain, and pairs nicely with "Suicide," equally cheerful and equally dark yet, thankfully, not a call-to-action.
"Heart of Stone" changes things up a bit as it heads back into more familiar territory, a memorable riff churning away amidst layers of filtered echoey reverb like a blender through cake batter, sweet and dark. "D.R.U.G.S" is likewise a bit more "modern" as the kids are saying nowadays, with a more electronic vibe and a pseudo-gothy, dancey vibe that sounds like it fell out of Tommy Tutone's cereal box somewhere around 1982-and-a-half. "Breaking Into Cars" is equally New Wavey and poppy, something like you might get if Siouxsie Sioux and Belinda Carlisle had shared a room like Peaches and Feist once did.
As if the Adams Familyesque mixture of dark humor and playfulness cannot sustain itself forever, the end of In and Out of Control seems to careen towards infinity, "Break Up Girls!" all fuzzy guitar and shrieking static giving way to robotic vocals only at its midway point, followed immediately by the spacey "Wine," a slow, hazy, fuzzy song that seems to get lost in drunken translation before fading out into waves of oceanic static, slowly receding into silence, all too soon. Not entirely off-putting, this, but merely a reminder that when you mix up sugar, spice and all things nice with snips and snails, sometimes you get a bit more bitter than sweet when you lick the spoon, to which the only solution is to go back for another taste of dessert. And you will; as with any small, dark, sweet, bite-sized candy, The Raveonettes are best devoured over and over, a handful at a time.
Favorite Track: "Last Dancet"