Danish, but not cheese: The Raveonettes' Pretty in Black.
Denmark's Raveonettes are not exactly soulful, but they are soulfully obsessed with pop music's halcyon past. And unlike most other style bands, Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo sculpt their obsession into something beautiful, not merely fashionable. Pretty in Black, the boy-girl duo's third and most original album, combines early-'60s easy listening, early-'80s synth, spaghetti Western, girl groups, the Beach Boys, and the Velvet Underground into tunes that register more than nostalgia. The twanging "Love in a Trashcan" has sleaze that could only sound so casual coming from a band native to the most sexually liberal country on Earth, but much of Pretty in Black is lusher and lighter than its title suggests. "Uncertain Times," with a sweet, direct vocal from Wagner, might be the band's first love song uncomplicated by noirish imagery. And even Foo's rendition of the skull-jugglingly annoying oldie "My Boyfriend's Back" blooms into commodious pop, while the Ronnie Spector appearance on "Ode to L.A." makes for a more natural pairing than even Jack White and Loretta Lynn. Someday, this album could beget nostalgia of its own.