Raveonettes’ ‘Pe’ahi’ – waves of emotion & garage-pop sound
Beat Dies Records
On July 22, 2014, it was announced that the Raveonettes had a brand new full-length studio album coming out, and it was to be released that same day-July 22. ‘Pe’ahi’ marks the duo’s seventh studio album. Sharin and Sune have been taking in the atmosphere of their southern California surroundings and have created a record that is different in many ways from much of their discography. There is a bittersweet irony with the concept of naming the album ‘Pe’ahi’. The word refers to a beautiful area on Maui’s north shore and the big wave breaks in the surf there. This place of beauty and serenity takes on a very different life, as it plays host to a seedy crowd of methamphetamine addicts during the off season. According to reports, in February 2014, a pregnant 27-year-old woman was murdered there. These sources of inspiration have gone a long way to help fashion an album that truly does stand out in the band’s prolific catalog.
It is probably relevant to point out that Sune Rose Wagner’s father passed away early this year. As it appears, that loss had substantial influence on ‘Pe’ahi’. This album is probably Sune’s most personal and honest work yet. From the beginning, with “Endless Sleeper”, a darker tone is set lyrically: ” How do you wake when your sleep it is endless?”. With tracks such as “The Rains Of May” or “Wake Me Up”, as he sings “When I was a boy/I’d go home from school alone/And wait for you/You never showed”, Sune is quite successful in conveying meditative reflection and a sense of longing. “A Hell Below”, “Kill!”, and “Summer Ends”, on the other hand, reveal a more confrontational demeanor, as he hurls “You said you come a-running when I need you / I said go f*ck yourself I don’t believe you”. While the tenebrous nature of ‘Pe’ahi’ is not exactly subtle, tracks like their direct homage paid to the skateboarding pioneers of ‘Dogtown’ in the song, “Z-Boys”, for example, allows some light to poke through.
If it’s said that ‘Pe’ahi’ is dark or somber, that’s not to say that it’s all about loss and sadness, because it isn’t. The songs reflect an amalgam of feelings and illustrate a proverbial emotional rollercoaster. While there are elements and methods on this album that they’ve experimented with and employed for the first time, the incomparable synergy that exists between Sharin and Sune is truly the Ravonettes’ bare essence. Their self-styled wall-of-sound guitar fuzz buzzing underneath the distorted lo-fi static still carries the songs all the way through and still provides the Raveonettes’ signature garage-pop sound. When Sharin’s voice works in tandem with Sune’s, especially in the choruses, they exhibit an innate duality of sweetness and sorrow that is truly unmatched. They have a unique ability to be both ‘yin and yang’ and ‘two of a kind’, switching from one to the other in an instant. That chemistry is the reason that the Raveonettes stand alone. ‘Pe’ahi’ is a shining example of what that chemistry can breed, as it too stands alone, and it beams brilliantly as one of their absolute best records to-date.