The Rakes, Retreat EP

The Rakes, Retreat EP

For nearly a decade, the music industry’s armchair quarterbacks waited for “the next Nirvana” — the band that would remind big record labels and radio listeners (again) what decent music sounded like (and that it could be sold to teenagers). When it came, bands that hit the (much smaller, due to hip-hop) rock jackpot turned out to be a whole slew of artists in a variety of genres, including indie/emo (Death Cab For Cutie, Modest Mouse, Bright Eyes), stoner rock and metal (Queens of the Stone Age, Mastodon) and garage rock (the White Stripes, the Hives, a million worthless bands with short names). And then there’s the Brits. In the past few years, only Death Cab for Cutie has surpassed Interpol (who, admittedly, aren’t from England themselves, but that’s where they draw from) and Franz Ferdinand for sheer overplayedness on college radio, at least in Houston. Their potent, if one-dimensional, dance-rock bounce and extreme hipness go over quite well with a generation of listeners whose primary fixation sometimes appears to be fashion. The inevitable legions of imitators suffer greatly from the genre’s lack of musical ideas and conformist sense of style, but with good execution, a sense of humor and a little attitude, the formula can still succeed.

In come the Rakes. The London quartet deftly cuts Interpol’s Joy Division copping with the edge of the Buzzcocks and Wire, though they unsurprisingly lack the latter’s adventurousness. The Rakes also seem to be grasping tentatively at a tragicomic take on the dead-end dance-party lifestyle, particularly on the bleak title track, though they could stand to expand their lyrical scope. And like their countrymen, they eschew the bombastic overproduction that plagues so much good American music (I’m looking at you, Rogue Wave) in favor of a tight, clear and driving rock sound.

The Rakes have the formula down. The question is whether they can expand on the borrowed ideas of this EP to produce music of real meaning and distinction. Having their single remixed by Bloc Party’s producer does not count. They could also do with a splash of humility — drummer Lasse Peterson: “I don’t get the fact that people create stuff that’s already there anyway.” Get this, guys: you sound like Interpol. Deal with it.

(Dim Mak Records -- P.O. Box 348, Hollywood, CA. 90078; http://www.dimmak.com/; The Rakes -- http://www.therakes.co.uk/)
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Review by . Review posted Thursday, April 27th, 2006. Filed under Reviews.

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