The Rakes


The Rakes were always a cut above the urchins that followed in The Libertines’ dubious slipstream. Rather than concentrating on the music, the axis of interest shifted from creativity to a squalid existence centred on hard drugs and solipsism at its worst. What was once kept behind closed doors and spoken of in hushed and discreet tones had taken centre stage at the expense of what was supposed to be the focus. Wither The Others, The Paddingtons and other ne’er do wells that prowled the East End with all the glassy eyed vigour of the dispossessed? And frankly, who really cares?

Clearly, The Rakes didn’t. Dissatisfied with what they perceived as a moribund music scene, the quartet upped sticks and, following in the footsteps of Bowie, Iggy and U2, decamped to Berlin. However, anyone expecting a sharp detour into a multicoloured world of experimentalism and sonic overhaul is likely to find themselves sorely disappointed as Klang finds The Rakes still trading in chopping, staccato riffing, minor chords and weary eye cast over 21st century life.

This in itself is no bad thing, and with Franz Ferdinand struggling with their new electro identity, The Rakes have gone back to basics. If Ten New Messages found The Rakes succumbing to all the usual clichés surrounding follow-up albums, Klang is the moment where The Rakes become contender again. ‘Shackleton’ and ‘1989′ are a return to the wry social commentary that drove Capture/Release, a world of rubbish jobs and equally mundane and unfulfilling escapism. Likewise the bouncing ‘The Light From Your Mac’ induces knowing smirks and a sense of pathos in anyone who’s rolled in from the pub way too late on a school night.

The sound of Klang is economic and sparse. Rather than feeling like the victim of severe budgetary cutbacks, this serves to heighten the sense of frustration and paranoia. But there are caveats. The absence of melody on opener ‘You’re In It’ threatens to strangle the album at birth, and all too often Donahoe’s vocals are pushed too far down the mix to fully register their impact. At first acquaintance, Klang leaves a brittle impression yet given time to breath it begins to unfold its delights. And, clocking in a just under 30 minutes, achieving familiarity is hardly a chore.

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