Sunday, December 30, 2007

Album Review: The Rakes - Ten New Messages (3 / 5)

See that clever album cover up there? That's "The Rakes Ten New Messages" spelled out in morse code. Remember another recent British band's album cover that consisted of its title in code? That would be Coldplay's X&Y, although they used the far less familiar baudot code, which, if you think about it, is actually more clever. And if The Rakes knew that I just compared them to Coldplay and they came up the lesser of the two I'd probably have a bloody nose right now (maybe not, they don't seem the violent sort; perhaps I'd just get some dirty looks).

My feelings on this album are that it's pretty good, but probably not something I'll turn to again and again. "The World Was a Mess but His Hair Was Perfect" is a great title; too bad the some doesn't measure up. It's okay, but nothing special. The album gets better from there though. "Little Superstitions" has enough atmosphere and melody to make it a standout. Better yet is "We Danced Together," the album's endearing first single. Energetic "Trouble" follows, not unlike an Arctic Monkeys track, bursting with guitar feedback, crazy drums and over quickly.

Then there's "Suspicious Eyes," which is the album's most interesting song. It delves into the post 7/7 paranoia of riding the Tube (July 7, 2005 was when the Tube, London's subway, was attacked by terrorists), telling the story from the point of view of three different riders--all suspicious of each other--performed by a male vocalist, female vocalist and a male rapper. "When Tom Cruise Cries" also delves into urban paranoia, but of a different sort: the inability to get hold of someone on the phone during a crisis. Living in DC on 9/11, I've felt both of these things. Final track "Leave the City and Come Home" is not bad, but the lead singer's voice isn't quite up to the task.

Thematically, the album touches on the usual: nights out at pubs and clubs, the world is a mess, and love is important but fleeting. No surprise then that the press has compared them to Bloc Party, as well as Arctic Monkeys, whose first album was produced by Jim Abbiss, who did this album. Worth a listen, but not a classic.

Best: We Danced Together, Little Superstitions, Suspicious Eyes

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