[Album Review] Raveen- Always
Reader Rating: (6 Votes)

Release Date: July 28, 2017
Label: Independent

If you were to simply take ‘Always’ as an R&B-flavoured contemporary pop album then it may well rank as one of the finest of that ilk this year. However, Raveen are more in the mould of musical pioneers, and if anything their melodic choruses are incidental to their intricate compositions.

As you listen to the earworm-worthy refrain of “How Does It Feel” in all its confectionary goodness you may consider me crazy (don’t worry, you’re not alone). But you’d be glossing over the fact that the track is brimming with detail, such as the Radiohead-style bass-line and the meandering guitar work. Then the song enters a more freeform, jazz-imbued, verse and you know this is not radio territory. The deal is sealed when the track goes entirely off-rails at around the 4-minute mark and the song is released from all strictures.

And, frankly, “How Does It Feel” is about as conventional as this trio gets. Things remain eminently listenable though, thanks mostly to Eric Seguin’s drop-dead gorgeous voice (which at times resembles that of Antony, know better known as Anohni). The songs, at their heart, also remain solidly in a 2017 cultural place. There may be embellishments from a full string accompaniment and a female backing choir, but ‘Always’ never even comes close to collapsing under the weight of pomposity. Raveen may follow in the footsteps of the ‘70s prog giants in their approach and their song structures, but they never fall into those traps of self-indulgence. As an example, the title track has ethereal strings and a heavenly female vocal backing, and yet Sequin manages to keep things anchored with his more earthly voice.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of Raveen’s music is their willingness to incorporate almost any style into their compositions. So you get ’90s alternative seeping into “What You Are Looking For”, soaring synth pop on “Begin”, country pedal steel on “Almost Nothing”. Plus there are elements of trip-hop and glitch throughout. This may sound absurd, but in a sense they are like the Pink Floyd of the new millennium, but instead of using rock-folk and psychedelia as the starting-off point Raveen uses the very familiar strains of modern urban pop.