The Raveonettes’ gimmick is that they hardly have a gimmick at all. Album in, album out, they’re going to assault you with a wall of sound that makes Phil Spector’s sound like a handicap-accessible curb. There are few things you can count on in this world anymore: nuclear holocaust, universal health care in the U.S. being talked about and dismissed as “impossible,” death, and each new Raveonettes album featuring no fewer than eight songs with speaker-blasting feedback paired with bubblegum melodies. This new one, In and Out of Control, even has a song about rape that has bubblegum melodies and a wall of sound.
In and Out of Control is the Raveonettes’ fourth full-length and second for Vice — they left the major-label confines of Columbia after they unsurprisingly didn’t become Columbia’s answer to the Strokes and this new fangled thing (circa 2002) called “the return of rock” (R.I.P.). While 2008’s career highlight, Lust Lust Lust, was exactly what you’d expect from a band looking inward after being pressured to be stars and failing (it had abrasive sonic textures, barely any sing-along singles), In and Out of Control splits the difference between the group’s earlier proto-rock pop and the purposeful aural destruction of Lust Lust Lust.
Lyrically, this may be the darkest Raveonettes album; “Last Dance” is about a lover prone to OD’ing a bunch, “D.R.U.G.S.,” “Suicide” and “Oh, I Buried You Today” are all self-explanatory, and “Boys Who Rape (Should All Be Destroyed)” is probably the easiest song about rape to agree with. But musically, it’s the same old Raveonettes, with every song being easily described with “shoegaze,” “feedback,” “poppy” and “retro” signifiers. The only (slight) change ups are “D.R.U.G.S.,” which introduces a dance-rock feel to the Raveonettes normal sonic makeup, and “Heart of Stone,” which showcases a hazy rock influence that only brings to mind acts like Black Angels.
In and Out of Control is still hindered by what has sunk every Raveonettes album from being great; there’s a sinking feeling upon multiple listens that you’re just listening to one long song. But there’s a certain amount of comfort and charm in the fact that the Raveonettes are reliably reliable, even if every once in a while you’d wish they’d switch things up every once in a while.