Nobody puts The Raveonettes in a corner

Sharin Foo and Sune Rose Wagner take their music to a new level of intensity on “Raven In The Grave.”

The Raveonettes mysterious disposition only adds to the power of their enthralling music.

Photo courtesy Ashlie and Amber Chavez

The Raveonettes mysterious disposition only adds to the power of their enthralling music.

by Sally Hedberg

WHAT: The Raveonettes with Tamaryn

WHEN: 8 p.m., today

WHERE: Fine Line Music Cafe, 318 First Ave. N., Minneapolis

COST: $15

The Raveonettes have spent a 10-year career existing on the mere periphery of the limelight they deserve. Yet, the catch-22 is that their just-off-of-the-grid inhabitance is what fuels such a cult following. Each album has yielded vague praise followed by disregard, begging the question: Why?

As a band with such a spot-on, albeit dark, ability to capture mood in its most pure, unsettling forms, it might be that people are simply daunted. TheyâÄôre the âÄúInfinite JestâÄù of indie-pop, and when it comes down to it, life is much simpler when you settle for Jodi Picoult or The xx. But with the release of their strongest LP yet, âÄúRaven in the Grave,âÄù and a show in Minneapolis tonight, itâÄôs an ideal time to give the introspective undertaking a gamble.

From their debut release in 2003, âÄúChain Gang of Love,âÄù to the present, the Danish-American transplants have weathered an intriguing musical evolution.

âÄúThe records have always been a sort of reaction to the previous album,âÄù guitarist/vocalist Sune Rose Wagner said.

What initially was structured upon the influence of âÄô50s and âÄô60s pop has morphed into something outside the realm of the traditional song form entirely.

âÄúWe didnâÄôt really go for any song structure,âÄù Wagner said. âÄúWe just added on whatever we wanted to add on to a song, which is why itâÄôs so different from what weâÄôve done before. ItâÄôs very cinematic.âÄù

If âÄúRaven in The GraveâÄù were scored to a film, it would be the kind of work that leaves the brains of film-study instructors bursting with in-class essay prompts. Thematically speaking, the record is layered and loaded. Fixated upon the nuance of life, love and death, The Raveonettes present their interpretations with an undercurrent of gloom.

âÄúSummer Moon,âÄô a fuzzy fragile track, evocative of the way music box chimes are used in horror films, tells the painstaking tale of a love that was doomed from the start. In a similar juxtaposition, âÄúWar in HeavenâÄô keeps along the dramatic path of addressing the most unnerving (though inarguably honest) challenges to exalted ideals of the human experience. They choose to confront some heavy subject matter, but that doesnâÄôt mean that itâÄôs borne out of negativity.

âÄúI think itâÄôs just the most fascinating aspects of life,âÄù Wagner said. âÄúItâÄôs very natural, and itâÄôs something that I personally think about a lot.âÄù

TheyâÄôve always discussed the same subject matter; itâÄôs just more hard-hitting when the cushion of a punchy pop foundation has been replaced with more atmospheric, orchestral sounds.

And thatâÄôs a result of the inspiration. âÄúRaven in The GraveâÄù was hugely influenced by the symphonic compositions of Bernard Herrmann and Richard Wagner. ItâÄôs this precise quality that makes the album of a higher caliber than some of their more pop-oriented product, like 2008âÄôs âÄúLust Lust Lust.âÄù The records as a whole were less distinctive when the sum of the individual tracks was so similar sounding.

âÄúIt was an experiment at first to see how far we could take it and if it was going to work in the context of a rock âÄônâÄô roll song,âÄù Wagner said.

It was a bold move to carry the music in such a drastically different direction, but theyâÄôve pulled it off with impressive finesse, heightening the appeal of their ongoing metamorphosis.