Arctic Monkeys are back, kitchen sink dramas have returned to cinemas and Liam Gallagher is at the top of the UK charts. Tied to the nineties? Perhaps. But when Bono sang about U2 being “the last of the rock stars, when hip-hop drove the big cars,” he clearly hadn’t spent any of his beautiful days in Widnes… the place where The Racket were born to boogie. By Alan O’Hare.
“I just wanted to be one of The Strokes,” sings Alex Turner on ‘Star Treatment’, the first shot across the bow from the much-anticipated new Arctic Monkeys album. It’s a great opening line for lots of reasons, but mainly because it breaks the fourth wall and invites you into the singer’s head. It also reminds those of a certain vintage about a time when boys with guitars were the orthodoxy and breaking down walls was something bands were supposed to do.
The Racket, a traditional four piece from Widnes formed in late 2015, are a young band trying to plough the same furrow. That said path might not even exist anymore matters not a jot to the group, whose music and performances so far suggest they just want to bring the noise. “He needs to look a little older, I think a year or two, he’s fifteen now, but he can handle a few,” sings frontman Callum Codd on brand new glam-punk stomper ‘Push Your Luck’ (below) and it’s there – among the economic riffs, twelve bar boogie and wall of sound ‘Definitely Maybe’-esque rhythm guitars – that the gestalt of The Racket can be found.
A throwback? Without a doubt, but sounding like your influences never did The Strypes any harm (last seen supporting Paul Weller on his 2018 arena tour) and The Racket are already proving popular at the box office. With sold-out shows on their CV, at Liverpool’s The Zanzibar Club and Manchester’s Night & Day, the group have captured the sound of the youthful north and bring an army of fans with them to every sweat-drenched gig. “We represent escaping from the mundane nine-to-five, minimum wage to pay bills… to feeling positive that things are going to get better,” says drummer Dom. It’s a rallying cry that echoes the sincerity and self-belief of all the best English rock ‘n’ roll bands and places the group in a long and illustrious lineage.
Have they got the tunes to back it up? Time will tell. So far, rabid fans have been drip fed singles, demos and live videos, but work ongoing inside Liverpool’s famous Motor Museum suggests that they’ve got at least a second single and video up their sleeve before the end of this summer. First single ‘Faded Days’ was a cracking start – a tune to soundtrack The Inbetweeners next film and get festivals singing along to its timeless backing vocal football chant – and there’s more to The Racket than the frenzied energy pogoing on the surface suggests.
‘Push Your Luck’ is a definite step-up to something all of their own. I can’t wait for them to share the rest of it with us.
Saturday June 16th, 8pm
EBGBs, Seel Street, Liverpool
Pic by John Johnson