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Raveonettes: warm and fuzzy or wild and lusty

February 28, 2008|Chris Martins

GOOD news for the feedback fans among us: When the Raveonettes' return to Los Angeles next week, they will most certainly bring the fuzz.

When they first came together in Copenhagen, 2001, the Danish duo's setup was simple: One guy -- mastermind Sune Rose Wagner, aloof, tousled black hair, cagey looking; and one girl -- shoegazey chanteuse Sharin Foo, a slinky, dizzyingly tall platinum blond. Their music was a minimal, droning take on coiffed '50s rock, with two-part harmonies, three-chord songs and nostalgia-laden lyrics. Fans glommed onto the Raves' debut couplet, "Whip It On" (2002) and "Chain Gang of Love" (2003) for their raw, glorious grit. But with 2005's "Pretty in Black," the twosome ditched the moody noise and became a five-piece, collaborating with big names like Ronnie Spector. Many followers lamented the change, but Wagner makes no apologies.

"I like clean, simple pop music and I like raw, noisy stuff," he says from a hotel in Lisbon, hours before a performance. "I do whatever I feel like at the time and that's it."

But with their just-released disc, "Lust Lust Lust," the Raveonettes pile on the feedback even as they simplify all else. The album is both a return to form and a forward leap -- a genuine coalescence tangible throughout this tour.

When asked about the new album's titular sin, Wagner responds, "I embrace it. My life is so filled with [lust] that it's hard to escape it. . . . I actually saw a shrink, which helped. The Buddhist way of handling it is a bit too monastic for me."

His approach to songwriting, however, is best cloistered. And for a band known to swath their songs in nostalgic imagery, the lyrics on "Lust, Lust, Lust" are surprisingly stripped. "I've cloaked my feelings in characters before," says Wagner, the Raves' sole songwriter. "This one was easy -- everything is true."

There is both art and exuberance on "Lust, Lust, Lust," but also, more noticeably, a drop in posture. There aren't any producers or guests, either. "I had such a clear vision of this album, it didn't make sense to bring anyone into the process," says Wagner. "It was too personal."

And while it once seemed the Raveonettes were renting space from the greats, with "Lust" they build a nook all their own.

"We're a very young band still," says Wagner. "We've only been around a few years, so we have some great albums to do. I just want to make beautiful, deep, intense rock 'n' roll."

His modesty is touching, but when the El Rey quakes on Tuesday night, the dissonance will destroy that too.

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theguide@latimes.com

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THE RAVEONETTES

WHERE: El Rey Theatre, 5515 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.

WHEN: 8 p.m. Tuesday

PRICE: $16.50

INFO: (323) 936-4790

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