The Rakes split up today. They were a very good band who made an incredible debut album and were a hell of a lot of fun to watch live. They will be missed.
Part of the post-punk art rock scene which emerged in the middle of the decade, with bands such as Bloc Party, Maxïmo Park, and Art Brut, no other band around could produce a tune that would make you want to dance more than The Rakes.
I first saw them when they were supporting Franz Ferdinand at Alexandra Palace in 2005. It’s very rare for me to enjoy a support act I’d never heard before, but I was sucked in straight away. The captivating bass hooks, the jagged guitar riffs, Alan’s vocals which ranged from deep singing to high-pitched whining, and his Ian Curtis dance moves. It all drew me in, by the time they were playing “We Are All Animals” I realised this was be a band I wanted to see again.
Capture/Release is an amazing album, easily one of the greatest albums released this decade. I think it came along at just the right time for me, with its songs about office life in the City, just months after I started working in an office. But it was more than that, the music was just so good, and they continued with the incredible 17-minute “The World Was A Mess, But His Hair Was Perfect”, originally recorded for a Dior Homme fashion show. The second album, Ten New Messages, could never live up to the debut, but was still a great listen with some really good tracks. The third, Klang, released earlier this year, is an album I’ve not quite been able to get into, but there are still some gems in there.
They were one of those bands where the rule seemed to be: the smaller the venue, the better the gig will be. When they were good, they were amazing, in particular I remember seeing them at the now-closed London Astoria, with an air of euphoria in the crowd as we all danced along to a band in the form of their lives. I’ve kept in touch with a few Rakes fans I’ve met at gigs, I don’t think that’s happened with any other band I’ve seen.
But now, it’s sadly all over. This afternoon the band released this statement:
The Rakes have always been very adamant and proud of the fact that we give 100% to every gig we’ve ever played. If we can’t give it everything then we won’t do it. That was the rule we set ourselves from day one.
After much deliberation we have come to the shared conclusion that we can’t give it 100% anymore and regret to announce that The Rakes are calling it a day. We are sorry to let down all the people who were coming to see us on the UK & US tours. Writing your own obituary is a surreal thing to do but we want to give particular thanks to our much-loved fans, all the great people we’ve worked with over the years, our management and loyal record label. We feel privileged to have had the opportunity to write music together and perform around the world. Genuinely, thanks for the good times…. That was one hell of a party! But now, we really must get some sleep.
Thanks for the memories Alan, Jamie, Lasse and Matt. Their legacy will be some great music, so here are some of my favourite Rakes tracks, including the awesome Strasbourg and my one of my favourite B-sides any band has made, Auslandmission: