Shifty Kids

Playing detective with the Rakes

Listening to Capture/Release, the full-length debut of Brit bonhomie quartet the Rakes, it's hard to nail down the band's M.O. Arty, fashionable post-punk? Literate, bookish noir rock? Lager-fueled, hard-cussing pub grunge? The record is inconclusive; these well-dressed blokes are masters of disguise. With Interpol-esque scrutiny and the diligence of Scotland Yard, SF Weekly pulled the Rakes' file and investigated a few key singles to get a bead on their true identity:

"22 Grand Job" (2004) Bird-flu-catchy, 100-second-long cubical-troll anthem Pied Pipers fans with regular-guy lyricism and a hand-clap celebration of the mundane. As The Office wraps up its run on BBC Two, the Rakes are deemed the first "post-David Brent band" after its lead character. Pints are drunk, shows are played, a reputation takes seed.

"Strasbourg"(2005) Singer Alan Donahoe unravels a smoke-stained tale of international intrigue on the French-German border circa 1983. A devout reader, Donahoe weaves a vivid Cold War narrative: "Surveillance cameras captured dawn/ Breaking on the Autobahn/ I knew for sure our chance was blown/ When rifles made us feel at home." Smart, punkish, and partially in German, "Strasbourg" proves there's more to the Rakes than one-line choruses and dead-end jobs.

"All Too Human"(2006) The threads come together in a dead-sexy song that nails the Rakes' talent and potential. With a lyrical nod to Nietzsche and an admission of total slavery to habit, Donahoe is abetted by a fat, electro-thrum rhythm section and Matthew Swinnerton's twitchy guitar. The song and the band stand up to the best of Bloc Party and Franz Ferdinand.

Through thorough analysis, we determined that the Rakes are working at the highest levels of rock 'n' roll infrastructure, flicking off hormones and intellect like so many half-smoked Gauloises. Right good business. Approach with abandon.

 
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