Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo of the Raveonettes have been flirting with billboard notoriety since they were first “discovered” by Rolling Stone editor David Fricke in 2002. Chain Gang of Love, their full-length debut—inspired more than anything by Danish avant-garde film purists—was made of abbreviated sonic experiments entirely in the key of B-flat major. Impossibly, it might seem, the album was listenable and gimmick-free. (The title track was even featured in a television spot for K-Mart, “the ultimate low culture Americana,” Foo giggles.) Their follow-up, 2005’s Pretty In Black, was a winsome interpretation of neo-noir via the Ronettes (in fact, Ronnie Spector added vocals to the project). Chain Gang Of Love was not, as it was hailed at the time, the “breakout” album to put the Raveonettes on the map (or the charts)—predictable in retrospect.
This month, the Danish duo is set to release Lust, Lust, Lust, what Foo calls “a psychedelic album.” “There’s a minimalist, drone feel, a monotonous thing. It’s our most personal album yet,” she explains. And she’s right. The album’s monotone notes act as a foil to its often explicit carnal themes. Says the blonde siren with the banshee wail, “We love songs that sound really sweet, but are really about a girl who kills herself.”
And this time around, she adds, it’s about re-focusing. For one, the Raveonettes won’t be on the cover of their new album, as they have been, to great effect on hipsters and more fashion-centric music fans, in the past. “We didn’t want big, luscious lips on it,” Foo laughs. “Too many people focus on our image. We were almost in the way of our own music.”
“During Pretty in Black, we were a little lost. Our musical motivation wasn’t at its highest point. On Lust, we’re now ready to be more honest—instead of writing little screenplays or B-movies, we’ve chosen to be autobiographical.” But, at their core, these are Wagner’s confessions, not hers. “It’s been difficult to connect to these songs [all of which are written by Wagner]. It’s about the balance between desire and knowing better. That isn’t something I’m going through at the moment.”
The duo is typically unabashed, sometimes bordering on silly, when they make public appearances, giggling and fawning and being downright Danish. In spite of any impressions to the contrary, Foo and Sune are not lovers or siblings (helpful to make clear in the shadow of the White Stripes, who are dogged to this day by the “relationship” question). But Foo confesses their rapport isn’t always so carefree. “I’ll tell you something most people don’t know about us,” she says, near whisper. “When we get really serious with each other, we can’t even communicate in real time. We have to e-mail each other. I’m sure there are lots of interpretations about how fucked up we are when we can’t even have a conversation about the problems in the band, but that’s how we work.” But wait, what about that dream of making it big? “This album is so not commercial,” Foo says proudly. “We’d be happy to have a lot of commercial success, but this just isn’t our year.”
Photography by Shawn Mortensen