The Rakes, Ten New Messages

Tim Chester

By Tim Chester

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

The Rakes gained fame in the UK in 2005 with their first scattershot attack on modern life Capture/Release, a collection of gritty urban laments that combined the gutter-pop sensibilities of the Others with Bloc Party's instrumentation. Now chief poet Alan Donohue and band are back, and they're clearly not fixing what ain't broke.

Post-punk clatter-rock, part two, from London’s unofficial biographers.

From opener “The World Was a Mess but His Hair Was Perfect” (an urgent collision of scratchy guitars and tom-toms recalling a less aggressive Cooper Temple Clause), it seems like they've never been away. Donohue's lyrical astuteness is back in full force, his monotone delivery the perfect conduit for these wry laments about the state of the nation.

“Suspicious Eyes” is kitchen sink satire, reflecting suspicion on public transport, a study of post-7/7 anxiety told from three perspectives (a mother, a prejudiced male and then a defiant backpack-wearing Muslim, played by rapper Raxstar).When Tom Cruise Cries,” meanwhile, mixes paranoia with pop culture in a deft hybrid typical of the band, perhaps destined to be termed "Rakesian" by the pop historians of the future. “We Danced Together” is the real classic here though, exhuming the ghost of Joy Division in a whirlwind four minutes destined for the same end-of-night spot at indie clubs that “22 Grand Job” enjoyed for so long.