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The Raveonettes

Pretty in Black (Columbia)

Since their inception, the Raveonettes have dwelled comfortably within walls of sound. On their previous full-length, Whip It On, those walls were more monolithic than ethereal, more Kevin Shields than Phil Spector. Not so with Pretty in Black. Shorn of distortion and density, the disc's thirteen tracks glint with a reverb-rimed shimmer that conjures apparitions of rock and roll's antiquity: Spector, Del Shannon, Roy Orbison and, most blatantly, the Ronettes (in more than just name), not to mention the Everly Brothers, whose "All I Have to Do Is Dream" is tweaked and recast here as the swooning, fluttery "Here Comes Mary." But the group's shoegazer worship still shines through: Seasick swells of guitar and narcoleptic melody echo Barbed Wire Kisses-era Jesus and Mary Chain or even Clinic's more surf-splashed moments. The Raveonettes' sonic architecture has always seemed a bit contrived and impenetrable -- but with Pretty in Black, they've replaced all those high, hard walls with waterfalls.

 
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