Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020

Raveena – Headaches

Next up, Leah sent in a song titled “Headaches” that is anything but…


Katherine St Asaph: Guitar music: still not dead! Just sleeping, and swooning.

Ian Mathers: The first half of “Headaches” was already strong, a gauzy and sometimes tremulous throwback (quasi?) R&B arrangement and a strong, aching performance from Raveena… then all the tapes wind down, briefly, and when it kicks back up the second manages to edge subtly closer to dream pop territory just by roughing up the guitar licks a little and bringing the drums forward a bit. Mirroring the song’s switch from something like bargaining to something like sad acceptable, the backing of “Headaches” brings together some elements that in isolation might seem like they shouldn’t match as well and shows just how close they are after all. It’s a subtly gorgeous trick, even if it’s not going to make your head (or heart) feel any better.

Jeffrey Brister: Initially I wasn’t feeling this. Heavy-lidded neo-soul chill vibes are fine, but the song’s texture doesn’t have enough to hold my attention. And then it switches up into a heavy-lidded, indie-pop chill vibe, slathering on more layers of instrumental texture, and just generally being a more interesting song to listen to. That particular trip doesn’t last long, but it does cast “Headaches” in a different light — the way the longing changes when the genre does, its casual conversational tone, like the subject is in the room, staring up with a sleepy smile; then switching to pining for someone who is definitely no longer around. The choice to illustrate that through a shift in genre is an ingenious one. And after that realization dawned on me, I started digging this a lot more.

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: If “Headaches” were just its first half — sophisticated R&B so reverbed-out and laid back that it’s almost daring you to call it dreamy — then it still would be a marvel, the perfect encapsulation of Raveena’s sound. The high gear that “Headaches” hits two and a half minutes in, then, is a marvel upon a marvel, a cosmic expansion written in power chords. By anchoring her song to a more conventional rock form in its second half, Raveena pulls a reverse of the old “Layla”-type trick, letting the spacey first half be made even more impactful by the focus of the second. It’s a fragile sonic alchemy, and here she makes it work.

Alfred Soto: Most praise will center on the rhythm change near the halfway point, but after two listens I hear little beyond the amiably innocuous that grabs the ear beyond the keyboard eddying around Raveena’s cooing.

Rachel Saywitz: A sweet but devastating track that moves through the timeline of a failed relationship with ease. Raveena’s voice has such a dulcet tone that one might not even think she would be singing about a love destined to fail. Luckily, the music carries that message forward, transitioning from a cotton-candy R&B dreamscape to a rock groove burdened with the realities of a love now gone. “There’s no sunset without you,” Raveena sings amid a backdrop of swirling synths. The honeymoon love of earlier is still in her mind, and she won’t let us forget it. 

Austin Nguyen: It’s been a year since the last time I had a crush, a word I stare at now that seems so foreign to me. In spite of how emotionally taxing quarantine was (and still is), I’ve felt the happiest I’ve ever been alone, falling asleep without needing to dream of some fictional love, watching it become reality for someone else without wallowing in self-pity. But when I listen to “Headaches,” I miss it a bit more: That feeling of staying up until 2AM the night before a chemistry test just to talk to them, realizing that you “can’t control it” and that your grades might also “need a medic”; how each interaction makes you as nervous as you were the first time you met, the same way the guitar plucks out notes like it’s trying to find its tuning again in a swirling vortex of distortion; the “sweet” nostalgia of the past heightened to “endless care and infinite space,” a kaleidoscope of futures and voices left softened and breathless by a single touch. I know how it feels to hold onto this feeling during daydreams and night drives, through back-of-the-beat sun-soaked strums and satellite-whirring synths, to want to press the palm of their hand and whisper, “I won’t forget you”… I’m just wishing for a “you” not to forget.

Samson Savill de Jong: Some songs express a feeling, others tell a story. “Headaches” manages to do both, describing the process and feeling of falling in love. Impressively it largely avoids feeling cliched, despite there being a fair few if you listen closely (I love “she’s the kind of girl who will fuck you up / I’m the kind of girl who will love too much” in spite of myself), but it’s because sometimes falling in love is cliched. The smooth, easy instruments belie the deeper melancholy and uncertainty that peaks through in the lyrics and the vocals; the worry that Raveena really likes this girl but doesn’t want to get hurt by them. Then the coda hits, Raveena’s given up fighting; she’s fallen, and it’s a bit magical and dreamy and surreal and absolutely gorgeous.

John Pinto: The coda is every bit as fundamental to dreamy music as the major seventh chord. A good coda can turn a middling tune transcendental — a trick worth copying — and it can convey uncontrolled emotional spirals both sweet and sickly. On “Headaches,” Raveena has one of those undeniable codas (complete with a tempo shift and a new drum sound!), so the real challenge is getting to it. She ends verse two by stepping on a potential landmine: “You want/endless care and infinite space.” Now “Headaches” needs that dose of concrete language to stay grounded, but the wrong delivery could shake the audience out of their pleasant dream with some well-meaning but misplaced “doing x for your partner is unpaid emotional labor” moralizing. Thank God you can hear the smile on Raveena’s voice, so it all goes down like honey.

Nortey Dowuona: Wilting and beeping synths lie over the gently wrinkled guitar and lounging bass and the soft bowls of drums as Raveena lies amongst the net and drifts, her echoes carrying her voice without dropping the percussion shakers. A shaking guitar weeps until the drums snatch up Raveena, the echoes chasing after, with the guitar being held by the bass as it weeps. The flickering blanket of synths follow Raveena as she climbs aboard with the guitar, her echoes flying beneath her as Raveena settles into the clouds.

Reader average: [6] (1 vote)

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3 Responses to “Raveena – Headaches”

  1. katherine, you only used nine words in your blurb yet captured the song perfectly! love all these high scores, raveena is wonderful.

  2. thank you!

  3. I think I’m with you, Alfred. I enjoyed this but it wore thin. Tbh, I just found myself feeling like I should listen to Lianne La Havas’s self titled for the fiftieth time instead.