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Rock - Released January 1, 2005 | [PIAS] Cooperative

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Alternative & Indie - Released March 19, 2007 | [PIAS] Cooperative

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Alternative & Indie - Released March 22, 2009 | [PIAS] Cooperative

The German word for "sound," Klang is a fitting title for the Rakes' third album -- and not just because the band recorded it in Berlin. These songs have a lot more sound to them than the relatively muted Ten New Messages, and the bandmembers turn up the volume on their emotions as well: "You're in It"'s jerky rock kicks off the album with the pungent refrain "Sometimes you can't smell the shit till you're in it," and as singer Alan Donohoe pours out his raging id, singing about sex and drugs and being in hell in a stream-of-consciousness smear, he sounds as wound up here as he sounded deadpan on the band's previous album. In fact, a lot of Klang feels like a direct reaction to Ten New Messages' more studied sound, especially on more unhinged moments like "Shackleton," another high-strung rant. Collaborating with producer Chris Zane (who has also worked with Les Savy Fav) inspired the Rakes to rock just as hard as they did in their early days, but with more precision: several of these songs could have appeared on Capture/Release, especially the "Strasbourg"-esque rave-up "The Final Hill" and "Bitchin' in the Kitchen," a sharply observed track about hanging out in the kitchen at parties that plays like a sequel to "Retreat." No matter how much the Rakes tinker with their sound, smoking, drinking, working, and going out are still the guideposts of their world, along with Donohoe's world-weary wit, which is especially trenchant on the paranoid, slightly self-loathing "The Loneliness of the Outdoor Smoker" and "That's the Reason." And while the single "1989" is Rakes-shaped enough to reassure longtime fans that the band isn't changing too drastically, it doesn't just stay in a poppy punk comfort zone. The band attempts some adventurous storytelling as Klang comes to a close, particularly on the charmingly awkward love song "The Light from Your Mac" and "Muller's Ratchet," a wry complaint from a father to his lazy son. "No one here likes a smart-arse," Donohoe sings, but the Rakes are smart enough to try new things with each album, and Klang's sharp guitar pop balances their previous directions with flair. © Heather Phares /TiVo