Off a hauntingly familiar piano riff—”Cold as Ice,” maybe, but backwards—”Observations” launches into a reverbed composition centered on an elegiac, six-note descending melody. Minor-key, of course. All sorts of vague ghosts from rock’n'roll past float through the soundscape, as typically happens when the Raveonettes come to town. (I will remind you that the duo’s very name is rooted deep-down in rock’n'roll history: The “Rave On”-ettes.) A good part of the group’s charm is that one is never sure what particular musical obsession will catch their interest at any given time. In addition to bursting on the scene with a major-label debut intent on somehow mashing together My Bloody Valentine and Buddy Holly (My Buddy Valentine?), this is a band that recorded their entire first release in the key of B-flat minor, and then their next album (the aforementioned major-label debut) all in the key of B-flat major.
This time around we appear to be in the ’70s, maybe. Beyond the inverted Foreigner riff, “Rhiannon” is in the air. At first the guitar has an Eric Clapton-ish aspect (e.g., 0:49, 1:09). But then the fuzzy/hazy guitars—nothing ’70s about them—make their entrance, and the cross-pollination begins, full of that special kind of elusive white noise that lets you know this is in any case a Raveonettes record. Male vocalist Sune Rose Wagner takes the lead here, his buzzy tenor dripping with reverb, with partner Sharin Foo floating Christine McVie-ishly in the background.
“Observations” is the semi-lead track from the band’s upcoming album, Observator, which is due out on Vice Records in September. The album is the band’s sixth, or seventh, if you count their eight-song debut as an album rather than an EP. It was recorded with producer Richard Gottehrer at Hollywood’s Sunset Sound recording studio, where any number of ’60s and ’70s classics were born, including Pet Sounds, Exile on Main Street, and albums by the Doors, Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, James Taylor, and Neil Young. This is the fourth time the band has been featured on Fingertips, with a first appearance dating all the way back to the dark days of 2003.