Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Rakes: Capture/Release

It would be easy but unwise to place The Rakes in that currently crowded shed of wiry British post-punk worshippers. There are bucketloads of easy, valid comparisons—both past and contemporary—to make, so let's get a partial list out of the way quickly: The Futureheads, Wire, Maxïmo Park, 999, Kaiser Chiefs, The Jam, Buzzcocks, and Bloc Party (especially Bloc Party) all provide solid reference points for Capture/Release, but a lack of singularity doesn't stop the album from being eminently listenable at its weakest moments and a solid stunner at its best.


It helps that The Rakes' full-length debut is almost embarrassingly packed with winning singles, songs that lit up London in 2005: Four of Capture/Release's 12 tracks have already been released as UK singles. Like most lasting pop, they initially seem like vacuous, quickie fun: At under two minutes, "22 Grand Job" sticks and moves with the energy of punk's early days; "Retreat," at just under three, marches in on Alan Donohoe's smart vocal snarl, building up to its broody, bristling sing-along ("Walk home / Come down / Retreat / To sleep / Wake up / Go out / Again / Repeat"); "Work Work Work (Pub Club Sleep)" explores similar terrain from a measured distance; and "All Too Human," a tack-on to the American edition, bodes well—in a kinda Franz Ferdinand-ish way—for the future.

But the album is never just vacuous, shimmying post-punk fun. Beyond the obvious standouts are smart, strange songs like "Terror!", which rides in on a slinky guitar and sinister vocal melody, but goes on to get paranoid ("Every plane is a missile / Every suitcase a bomb") and the martial "We Are All Animals," which even dares a bit more social commentary with lines like "Will genes replace Genesis?" Those lines aren't objectively brilliant, but they work brilliantly in the context of an album that manages to slink, lurk, grate, and dance simultaneously. It isn't striking out into unknown sonic neighborhoods, but Capture/Release does a striking job of exploring familiar territory.