The Rakes

Ten New Messages

‘Capture/Release’ had a way of charming you, didn’t it? The way it rolled into the pub in crisp Fred Perry, all chatter about 22-grand jobs, so quick to get the next round in. But it was the album’s hidden vulnerabilities, arriving like panicky late-night phone calls that really kept us interested. Smart and nervy, you knew when The Rakes swaggered, it wasn’t rock-star arrogance; this was a band wearing confidence as a shield.

Beep-beep! Here’s ‘Ten New Messages’. We catch up with Alan Donohoe at the boozy centre of ‘The World Was A Mess But His Hair Was Perfect’, his girl missing, his sanity threatening to go the same way. But whereas the first album thrived off its own spiky, nervous post-punk energy, here the choppy guitars sound muted, and the malaise feels a little more forced. ‘When Tom Cruise Cries’ takes aim at phoney Hollywood emotion, but Donohoe’s delivery is monotone and hollow like a Scientologist’s smile. Set on a tube train, ‘Suspicious Eyes’ tackles racial tension through several guest voices (a worried mother, gruff working-class male, backpack-clad Muslim), but while the narrative is smart, the message is flimsy.

The Bloc Party album might be messy, but it has a vision: love is a salvation. On ‘We Danced Together’, The Rakes glimpse the same conclusion. But ultimately, ‘Ten New Messages’ is too myopic to see beyond its own concrete cynicism. Lying in the gutter, looking at the pavement; little wonder it’s not their night.

Louis Pattison