There's a long-standing theory that, due to their geographic isolation and reduced exposure to sunlight, Scandinavians are more in touch with their dark and gloomy sides. (See Beowulf, Hamlet and the grim stories of one Hans Christian Andersen.)
Danish duo The Raveonettes do nothing to debunk this theory with their latest album: Rape, drug addiction, suicide and teenage runaways are the subjects of choice.
Grim stuff, but In and Out of Control is mostly saved from being an exercise in the morose by the band's trademark marriage of '60s girl-group song structures and hard-edged, fuzzed-out instrumentation. Imagine The Chantels singing from a goth girl's diary, accompanied by plenty of guitar and tinkling chimes. Don't listen to the lyrics closely, and there's little indication of the darkness that lurks beneath.
The results are uneven: At times, the juxtaposition between content and sound is so divergent that it's just bizarre, such as on "Boys Who Rape (Should All Be Destroyed)," where the titular line is repeated in sing-song a cappella, and "D.R.U.G.S," with its cheerleader-like chanting. More successful are "Last Dance," a great dance number that doubles as a macabre love note to a frequently overdosing lover, and "Breaking Into Cars," a solid fuzz-pop number.
Lust Lust Lust, the band's terrific last record, focused on hedonism, consequences be damned. Now, The Raveonettes are talking about the fallout of indulging in bad love, bad drugs and bad situations, and that's just not as fun.