16 February 2009

The Rakes - Klang!

The curse of the third album has affected a number of bands as of late. The Kaisers have pretty much fallen from their position of golden boys of indie disco after "Off With Their Heads", My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy have become the targets for all hatred of emo, Bloc Party's "Intimacy" dropped under the radar about a week after release as did Razorlight with "Slipway Fires" and The Futureheads with "This Is Not The World". Of course, the "curse" used to be for the second album, but it appears that with so many bands upping their game for their sophomore effort, they fall at the hurdle for their third. The Rakes' debut "Capture/Release" is an undeniable modern classic, follow-up "Ten New Messages" was harshly criticised upon release but was still distinctly average. Now, with new album "Klang!", recorded in and influenced by Berlin, it remains to be seen whether the band is back on track.

Any album that begins with the line "Sometimes you can't smell the shit 'til you're in it" is on to a winner straight away, so the signs are good with opener "You're In It", which sounds a bit like "Violent" from "Capture/Release". But from here for a good few tracks, The Rakes turn into caricatures of their former selves. The songs in particular aren't bad, just indistinguishable from the rest of the crowd. The only hope is that they somehow burst into life when played live. The album's lead single "1989" is definitely the highlight up to now. A bonkers burst of energy to throw yourself around the room too along with a "la la la" chorus puts it amongst the best of The Rakes' arsenal. "Shackleton" is just as mad and just as good. "The Light From Your Mac" is built around what sounds like an Interpol bassline and oh-so-modern lyrics about a Mac that will most likely be dated in a few years, though that doesn't stop it from being a tune. "Muller's Ratchet" is possibly the worst song on the album, coming off like The Libertines if they got real and stopped dreaming of Albion and Arcadia, but much, much better. Album closer "The Final Hill" is quite an ominous-sounding anti-institution rant that is the best example of The Rakes' "Jam-meets-Joy Division" sound and shows they still have ideas left.

After a minor slip-up with "Ten New Messages", it would appear that The Rakes are back on their way to the top of the indie pile, even if "Klang!" is just half an hour long. Sure, there are a handful of below-par tracks, but in the age of shuffling and iTunes, they can easily be ignored. They may never hit the heights of "Capture/Release" again, but as long as The Rakes keep churning out nuggets of indie-rock madness then they'll have a long future ahead of them.
ESSENTIAL TRACKS: "You're In It", "1989", "Shackleton", "The Final Hill",
FOR FANS OF: The Jam, Joy Division, The Maccabees, Franz Ferdinand, The Streets, Arctic Monkeys


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