The Raveonettes Whip It On

Scandinavia is aflame with garage rock fever right now and this psych/surf/pop Danish duo is lighting the beach party bonfire in the Soundtrack to their Hives-filled Hotnights. Songwriter/guitarist Sune Ros and bassist Sharin Foo meld a unique blend of Velvets-inspired fuzz and '60s girl group bubblegum pop waxed down with more short and sweet surf riffs than a Frankie and Annette movie. The primitive, stripped down rawness of other co-ed duos like the Cramps and the White Stripes come to mind, while the distant, drugged-out vocals remind more than once of the Jesus and Mary Chain. Yet what the Raveonettes can boast beyond these influences and their contemporaries are smooth as honey harmonies on top of the blasted-out cacophony. That's where their neophyte pop sensibilities gleam through, and that's what will help them carve a niche in the icy-cool avant garage glacier. One knee-jerk criticism of this debut EP is that only one or two of its eight tracks (most notably the hip-shaking "Do You Believe Her") are immediately distinct. But if the sound comes off as formulaic - all under three minutes, all in "glorious B minor," little variety in the drum machine programming - those limits were apparently self-consciously imposed by Ros (as claimed on their web site). Those kinds of hindsight-laden, Pee Wee-esque "I meant to do thats" are usually sketchy, so we'll have to see if they can broaden their horizons with the forthcoming full-length, because someone sure as hell needs to help Man or Astro-man? with giving surf a 21st century revamp. (Sony)