The Raveonettes' late career run of excellent work continues on 2014's Pe'ahi, an album that blends the heady rush of their early records with the sophisticated arrangements and darker moods of their 2010s stuff. Building on the more intricate and thoughtful approach of 2012's Observator, Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo craft a sound that's full of the duo's expected overdriven-to-the-point-of-breaking guitars, but also has lots of breathtaking dynamics and more focus on beats and rhythms than usual. Whether it's the canned bossa nova beats of "Endless Sleeper," the pounding hip-hop swagger of "Sisters" and "KiIl!," or the Zeppelin-esque thunder of "Summer," the drums anchor and propel the songs in a powerful fashion. Wagner's songwriting leans toward the dark, as usual, but this time there seems to be some anger running just below the surface, or sometime right on it, which is reflected in the at-times brutal attack of the guitars. His production, done with the help of American hotshot Justin Meldal-Johnsen, is sleek and honed to needle-sharp perfection. The arrangements are rarely straightforward, with barely anything playing out in an expected way. Instead there are constant surprises popping up in the mix, like churchy backup singers and a filthy bassline on "Killer in the Streets" or a long section of sub-aquatic fuzz and feedback that splits the very Medicine-y "Z-Boys" in two. Throughout, the duo show they can still make tons of noise and pout as dangerously as ever, but as on their last two albums, the growth in their songwriting and emotional depth continues to grow deeper and richer. After having been around for so long, and after having made so many good records, it might be easy to take the Raveonettes for granted, or to cast them aside in favor of the latest flavor of the month. Like the rest of their 2010s output, the strength and near-brilliance of Pe'ahi show clearly what a mistake it would be to do either of those things. Anyone looking for the best that noise pop has to offer in 2014 should start their search with the Raveonettes.
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra