The Rakes | Capture/Release (V2)

With such company as Franz Ferdinand, Bloc Party, and Art Brut, how will the Rakes stand apart from the rest in such a competitive and undeniably talented genre of the music industry?


The Rakes owe a lot to the music of the ’80s—more specifically, the Romantics, Talking Heads, and the Police, but the whole decade could be paid proper dues by listening to Capture/Release, the band’s first album.

On a whole, art-punk is kind of a tricky genre. Balanced by being tasteful but dangerous, sometimes the objective can be distorted and the message of the music can be fuzzy within the style of the band. Simply put, identities can be lost. This isn’t the case with the Rakes, however; they know who they are.

With such company as Franz Ferdinand, Bloc Party, and Art Brut, how will the Rakes stand apart from the rest in such a competitive and undeniably talented genre of the music industry? Answer: lyrics. The band writes from an extremely personal standpoint on some songs (as most punk-influenced bands do), while bringing a more intangible and conceptual side on others. The trick is doing all this while not taking what a listener hears lyrically for granted. “I’m walking unknown territory/Where the sun’s not shining/There’s nothing golden about Golden Lane/The smoke is heavy in my lungs…/Everything is temporary these days/Might as well go out for a third night in a row.” An unsettling feeling emerges over the Rakes’ lyrics: the band can only use their music as an escape, projecting themselves into a reality only they see fit.

Capture/Release offers up a couple singles to give us an idea of the band’s slacker ideals (but not in a bad way), along with guitarist Matthew Swinnerton’s terrific riff style—think Wire but modernized. “Work, Work, Work (Pub, Club, Sleep)” makes the right kind of first impression of fun mixed with meaning, something a lot of bands often botch, either coming off as overly dramatic or just plain cheeky. “All Too Human” offers clarity through its choppy guitar lines with driving bass and hi-hat–driven beats. Throughout, the band keeps a close eye on catchiness, making sure they’re never too far from our attention span.

The other songs on the album all live within the same zip code as the singles, never traveling too far out of commitment to the sound of the Rakes. “Open Book” stands out as a song that might get people hooked on that deeper (“I’m so in love with the Rakes”) level. It’s hooky, in a sneaky kind of way, and throws its easy-to-learn chorus straight in your face (“Oh-oh. Oh-oh”), forcing you to sing along.

It’ll be interesting to see if the London band can capture success here in the States. Does America have the attention span for another indie-dance band? Capture/Release will have the major label support it needs to get off the ground, and the songs are good, but it has yet to be seen if pale, white, skinny kids everywhere will be grabbing their neckerchiefs and dance shoes for this band. Let’s all hope the Rakes prevail.

 


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