Not, perhaps, the sort of thing that I write about here very often, but The Rakes always sounded round these parts as one of the best bands to emerge from the whole post-Libertines/post-punk/Britpop Nouveau thing of a few years ago. They seemed to have a fair bit more wit and interesting angles than most of their contemporaries, and maybe a healthy affinity to Elastica.
That said, I can’t pretend to remember much about The Rakes’ second album, so the arrival of their third didn’t initially cause that much fuss. It’s really good, though: it’s called “Klang!”, possibly due to it being recorded in the band’s new hometown of Berlin. “Klang!”, however, is not much like Krautrock, being instead a lean and determined reiteration of the Rakes’ skills: choppy riffs; bug-eyed social observation; very short songs.
“Klang!” has ten songs, the longest of which comes in at less than three and a half minutes. The titles are pretty good value in themselves: “The Loneliness Of The Outdoor Smoker”, “Shackleton”, “Mullers Ratchet”, the last of which apparently refers to a genetic disorder which manifests itself in asexual populations and is not the sort of thing you get dealed with so catchily in, say, a song by The View.
And as something like “That’s The Reason” belts past, the infectious bristling economy comes across as a neat rejoinder to the new Franz Ferdinand album, where their schtick seems so tired and needy. The price of success, maybe: if “Tonight: Franz Ferdinand” finds a band so anxiously trying to cling on to fame and overcompensating as a result, “Klang!” showcases one unburdened by any such expectations.
Frankly, The Rakes’ time of hipness may have past, but the quality of these clipped dispatches – and the unglossy punch bestowed on them by Les Savy Fav producer Chris Zane – suggest a longevity uncommon in British bands of their generation. The best thing of many good things here is a song called “1989”, a roisteringly nostalgic knees-up which may have something to do with the fall of the Berlin Wall, which faintly resembles “Hong Kong Garden” with its gothic portent replaced by something at once blokey and somehow cerebral.
Everything flies past in a blur, but occasionally you catch Alan Donohue’s blurry narratives through those precisely ringing and strutting guitars, that mathematically chundering bassline. In “Shackleton”, he seems to be comparing himself to “Harry Hill on happy pills”, and though I’m fairly sure there’s more erudite references in here, that one sticks out this morning. Good record.