Album Reviews

The Rakes – Klang

(V2) UK release date: 23 March 2009

It’s difficult to think of a band whose lead singer’s dancing and appearance encapsulates soprecisely what the group he fronts sounds like. Thin. Angular. Jerky. Wiry. Or maybejust Wire-y.

So as we hadn’t spotted Mr Donohoe beginning to spend some portion of his time on stage cha-cha’ingfrom front to back, there’s no reason to to expect anything other than more of the same from Klang.

Lo and behold, there isn’t. Despite all the talk of moving to Berlin, of being sick and tired ofthe London music scene, it’s remarkable how similar this record sounds to ground previously trod by The Rakes.Particularly the bits trod whilst they were fairly major players in what suspiciously looked likea London music scene of two-thousand-and-summit.

The major difference is the stripping of the half-hearted and wholly misjudged attempts toshoehorn the kind of club-footed, cack-handed, post 7/7 social commentary that makes the DailyExpress look well judged and even handed, and made their last album (Ten New Messages) sounappealing.

Safer to stick to the kind of treatise that sounds like philosophy after 12 pints. Like theirdebut. Which, when you think about it – in terms of 19th Century French politicians, and thesedays that’s the only way to consider anything – is a little bit depressing. A bit “therego all my people. I must find out where they are going so I can lead them.”

Still, when they tried to lean on the boundaries we rejected them wholesale, so it’s notunexpected to find revision rather than revolution at the centre of their third album.

To be fair, on a lot of levels it’s a smart move. From beginning to end Klang is pin sharp,ridiculously taut and pithier than Stephen Fry’s orange. You’re In It bounds in and out ofexistence in double-quick time, all chopped chords and pulsating basslines; there’s a brillianthook which wraps the chorus of That’s The Reason in Strokes-like catchiness and neat little linesand flashes of inspiration abound.

But nothing ever really comes of it. The Loneliness Of The Outdoor Smokers (the Hoxton Squarecousin to Elbow‘s none-more-northern The Loneliness Of A Tower Crane Driver?) could be asmirkingly clever metaphor for noughties sadness and ennui, but the song just elbows past in thesame brusque fashion as everything else. Never stopping to consider anything more than theappearance.

It’s like a film singularly scripted with the tag lines from the posters. A book constructedsolely from the blurbs on the back. It’s all surface no feeling. You won’t dislike Klang. Youmay even find yourself grinning at bits of it. But, ultimately, you just won’t remember it15 minutes after it’s over.

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More on The Rakes
The Rakes – Klang
The Rakes – Ten New Messages
The Rakes – Capture/Release
The Rakes + Battle @ Mean Fiddler, London
Interview: The Rakes