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The Rakes - Ten New Messages

The Rakes, Ten New Messages

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

LISTENING to the opening guitar riffs of World Was A Mess But His Hair Was Perfect, the opening track of The Rakes’ sophomore album Ten New Messages, you could be forgiven for experiencing a sense of deja vu as we hit post-punk, Strokes-styled territory once again.

But don’t hang up. The Rakes quickly dispel fears that they’ve been content to merely trot out a formulaic rehash of Capture/Release by then delivering nine further tracks of greater maturity and depth.

For sure, there are moments early on when Ten New Messages seems to be attempting to become the best long-player The Strokes never wrote (no bad thing). But just when you think you have it’s number it ups the standard and throws in some genuine surprises.

And, to be fair, neither World Was A Mess But His Hair Was Perfect nor Little Superstitions are bad records. The structures are much more confident and the sound much fuller even though Alan Donahue’s vocals drift precariously close to Julian Casablancas’ at times.

Little Superstitions, in particular, is drenched in the kind of melodies fans might not have been expecting and emerges as a real charmer come the second or third listen.

Lead single We Danced Together is a smart little performer, the echoed vocals in the background adding a thrilling extra element that showcases the fuller sound to be found throughout the album.

And then there’s Suspicious Eyes, by far and away The Rakes’ most ambitious undertaking to date.

It starts off in familiar territory before blossoming into a multi-layered offering complete with guest vocals from Laura Marlin (enchanting), Phil Morais (well-realised) and Raxstar (adding some indie-styled rap).

Marlin’s presence is particularly enthralling, lending an extra dynamic to The Rakes’ sound that could be further utilised in the future. The umming backdrop is also shiver-inducingly clever.

And then there’s the rapping section, a hard-hitting take on contemporary attitudes towards race in the post 7/7 climate. It’s a notable interlude that works an absolute treat in making you stop what you’re doing and take notice.

The 7/7 theme is revisited on another highlight, When Tom Cruise Cries, which displays how far the band have matured since their Capture/Release days.

It’s the sort of emotive effort that Damon Albarn would be proud to lay claim to, effectively capturing the terrible realisation of waking up on that fateful day and trying to call home. The guitars are pitched just perfectly, while Donahue’s vocals are considerably reigned in. It’s another firm highlight.

Prior to that, Down With Moonlight slow-builds its way towards a fiery finale that’s supremely rousing.

And final track Leave The City And Come Home caps things off in style, demonstrating how the band have employed tighter rhythmic structures and a keener sense of melody to such telling effect. It’s another slow-builder that takes its time to deliver the goods.

If Capture/Release won widespread plaudits and featured on several year-end best of lists, then Ten New Messages should emulate its success.

For me, it’s where The Rakes have really started to do their talking and the messages are well worth hearing.

Download picks: We Danced Together, Little Superstitions, Suspicious Eyes, Down With Moonlight, When Tom Cruise Cries, Leave The City And Come Home

Track listing:

  1. World Was A Mess But His Hair Was Perfect
  2. Little Superstitions
  3. We Danced Together
  4. Trouble
  5. Suspicious Eyes
  6. On A Mission
  7. Down With Moonlight
  8. When Tom Cruise Cries
  9. Time To Stop Talking
  10. Leave The City And Come Home