The Rakes - Ten New Messages

Lara O'Reilly 10/03/2007

Rating: 2/5

Ten New Messages is the comeback LP from old London favourites, The Rakes. It's a far cleaner cut than their debut, avoiding the drunken slurs and sleaze which made them so endearing. Will it live up to fan's expectations? We'll find out in a couple of weeks' time.

Previously downloadable and already fan-favourite, 'The World Was A Mess But His Hair Was Perfect' kicks off this second record. The track-length has been chopped dramatically since the first mp3 we all dirty downloaded over a year ago. The sophisticated bass line with its James Bond influences is the song's most prominent feature and a sign that the Rakes are more than their catchy three minute ditties.

However, as the album progresses so does the boredom. Alan Donohoe must be clinically depressed, there's no other excuse for it. The Rakes are now less wit and more wet. The music isn't exactly mosh-worthy; it'd even be hard to bob your head along to tracks such as 'Little Superstitions'. Remember the backing singer in the chorus of 'Little Thoughts' by Bloc Party ('I'll go back...")? The one who really sounded like he didn't want to be there, like he was singing deliberately bad because he was jealous of Kele being forever in the spotlight? That's the vocal sound of the Rakes new album. If you were on your death bed you could still manage to convincingly mimic 'We Danced Together' with matching vigour.

'Trouble' is far more gig-worthy but 'Suspicious Eyes' is what we've really been waiting for, something a little bit different for the Rakes, a Strokes sound, with an almost 80's sounding chorus. Oh God, maybe not 2 minutes in. What the hell is going on? I could deal with the female vocalist (That should be interesting live), but the Rakes and guest rappers do not mix (No, the '22 Grand Job' Lethal Bizzle mash-up wasn't acceptable either.), but at least it's topical rap: "there's people always assuming who I am but they're wrong, got a beard and the bag so they think I got a bomb."

The song that follows is far more appetising to the ears. How could anybody not like a song named When Tom Cruise Cries? Surprisingly, the song is a clever but bitter stab at the media and how it only acts as a false distraction to the real dramas of life. As with the rest of the album, the music is desperately over-produced and the only remnant of their previous, gritty selves is Donohoe's strong accent. Even with that in mind, if the whole of this LP had been based around this one model of a song we'd have a far more successful album. The track itself is far from legendary but the lyrics are addictive and quotable. 'Time to Stop Talking' is another example of the Rakes ageing, but for the worse: grumpy old men rather than fine wines. They may as well come out for their next tour in slippers and heads donned with flat caps.

But wait! Maybe there's still hope. The initial guitar strums sound as though 'Leave the City and Come Home' is going to launch into Feeder's 'Buck Rogers'. Not quite, but at least there's a mention of sex to keep us interested- or more the lack of getting any. You just know the next album's theme will be around Viagra and speed dating (Watch out for the 2007 'Still Keeping It Up' tour).

If you're after a lack-lustre album that makes you wish for the return of days gone by, get out and grab Ten Messages on March 19th. Over 60's special 50% discount.