It is immediate that one hears a mixture of Franz Ferdinand and Joy Division in The Rakes’ first track, the self-titled “Retreat”. What results is a high-energy rock track that has enough aural presence to really make a strong case for inclusion on the radio. The intense chorus, spoken rather than sung out will drive itself like a hammer into one’s mind, never to release itself from one’s memory. The guitar/drum dynamic during “Strasbourg” really recalls the earliest days of punk rock, taking away any nuance or thought-out arrangements for something as straight-forward as anything from the Pistols or the Ramones.
Moving back to the shuffling beats and deadpan vocals of the Franz Ferdinand set for “Dark Clouds”., The Rakes do their best impression of FF, to the point that one would be hard pressed to really delineate the two bands. The track stands on its own, more than just being a FF clone; the inclusion of hand-claps at points during the track, however small of a matter, really gives the track the proper funkiness. In fact, “Dark Clouds” really floats on top of a disco beat, even if the outward rock of the track largely conceals that fact. Pushing the bass to “22 Grand Job”, it is still the endearing guitar that fades in and out of the speakers that is memorable on the disc, taking the sound of The Strangles and Prole and really updating it to the current period. “22 Grand Job” is one of those perfect tracks that simultaneously pull influences from the collective history of rock and roll and give listeners a lesson in the space of about three minutes.
“Something Clicked And I Fell Off The Edge” takes a little bit of surf and rockabilly influence along with a little “Werewolves of London” to make an unwieldy track that even in its messy sound will hook more than its fair share of listeners. Cutting the official number of tracks to five (the sixth is a dance, techno remix of the title track), The Rakes have succeeded in coming up with the most catchy music of the late part of this year; the music may not be the most innovative to ever roll off the line, but the band connects with its listeners in a way that has not occurred since “Reasons To Be Cheerful, Part III” or “Love Will Tear Us Apart”. Pick it up and look for the full length soon.
Top Track: 22 Grand Job
The Rakes – Retreat / 2005 Dim Mak / 6 Tracks / http://www.therakes.co.uk / http://www.dimmak.com / Reviewed 04 November 2005