Release Date: Sep 5, 2011
Record label: DFA
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Electronic, New Wave/Post-Punk Revival
On their first album in five years, these New York dance punkers stumble out of the House of Jealous Lovers and into the house of God. Frontman Luke Jenner dials his diva shriek down to a gospel-inflected croon he honed singing with a Brooklyn church choir, and Grace breaks pretty cleanly from the band's signature taut disco – see the free-jazz sax on "Sail Away," the trippy electrocumbia of "Come Back to Me," and the title track, where whooshing cymbals and atonal guitar brighten Jenner's exalted cries. It won't get you shaking your ass, but swaying eyesclosed on Sunday morning has its appeals too.
In The Grace of Your Love does not reinvent The Rapture, not even superficially. The New York dance-punk originals are still playing hard, city-slicker bangers; Luke Jenner’s teetering yelp is still an acquired taste; their album cover and promo photos still convey a stark, effortless suave, and of course, they’re still signed to DFA. The five-year gap since the band’s last full-length Pieces of the People We Love has subversively encouraged a lot of people to write off their scene-defining presence as something ready for the history books, but Grace serves as a flagrant reminder of all the ways The Rapture can be great.
Back on DFA Records after a one-album foray to Universal, The Rapture seem poised for a comeback of sorts. Whether or not that happens, the chaps have certainly put their best foot forward with this sparkly, new work..
Prior to the making of In the Grace of Your Love, lead singer and lyricist Luke Jenner became a father, lost his mother through suicide, and converted to Catholicism. The events naturally had a major impact -- one far greater than the departure of bassist Matt Safer -- on the Rapture's fourth album. The dramatic changes in Jenner’s life supplied him with a lot to work through, and they’ve fostered the most focused, song-oriented set of Rapture material -- one in which death, devotion, and children are recurring themes, expressed in states of deep anguish and redemptive joy.
The Rapture released the lead single and, later, the rest of the songs from its new album, In the Grace of Your Love, with videos of the records playing on a Technics turntable. This cute retro detail wasn’t so surprising given DFA Records’s penchant for hip marketing devices, but it was still an important statement: For all of its polished production work, the album is a palpably, even defiantly, physical object. The lead single, “How Deep Is Your Love?,” is propelled by an aggressive piano chord that you can feel in your gut.
Looking back, the Rapture's legacy is as a galvanizing force for the underground, busting indie rock's standstill so mightily that we're now embarrassed to be the guy not dancing. They never seemed like a good bet to break dance music to the mainstream audiences, though, no matter how hard iTunes insists that the closing track on my copy of 2006's Pieces of the People We Love is titled "Best Buy Exclusive. " Pan-pop conspiracy theorists might note that the Rapture reached fever-pitch in New York in 2003, or right around the time that Lady Gaga was enrolling at NYU, but if the Rapture hadn't stopped their own momentum, someone would have stopped it for them: likely labelmate/mentor/producer James Murphy, whose LCD Soundsystem offered the same funk-punk grooves but had better jokes (well, had jokes period) and a more explosive live presence, with pathos to boot.
Admit it: you'd put in a missing persons for The Rapture too. Five years after an album produced by Ewan Pearson and, well, Danger Mouse—Pieces of the People We Love—that felt like a move toward obsolescence in itself, the Rapture are back. Not only with another album, but homeward bound for the label that established them at decade's turn with "House of Jealous Lovers" and 2003's attendant LP, Echoes, as the foremost dance-punk cross-pollinators in the States.
After spending the better part of a decade making music for major labels, the Rapture were overcome by debilitating turmoil and have emerged - minus bassist Matt Safer - with their first album in five years, this time for the indie label they helped launch, DFA. There's a whiff of the angular post-punk with which they're most often associated in the shuffling bass lines, but for the most part this is a stylistically varied album united by big, emotive choruses. Indeed, the band seems so focused on nailing a memorable pop hook that it sometimes feels like Luke Penner's heart-on-his-sleeve falsetto is hammering a little too hard.
Ten years and four months ago a little-known band released an EP called Out Of The Races and Onto The Tracks. On its cover was a quickly drawn outline of North America showing two arrows speeding across the country and converging on their home-town. New York, May 2001. If this was The Rapture’s visual shorthand for ‘hey world, keep your eye on this place!’ then they could hardly have been more prescient.
It seems so crazy, so antiquated, so mean-spirited that we chewed up the Rapture back in 2003, just for having the audacity to try to get us to move our asses. But it also makes sense. They were the floppy haired paragons of dance punk, the New Movement that was supposed to storm the charts, and take over whatever slice of the world that indie had, but instead culminated in one solid Bloc Party album, about eight great Rapture songs, whatever the fuck this was, and was blown up when James Murphy decided he could do it better.
The Rapture’s fourth album begins with a showstopper; not in the sense that “Sail Away” is a great song — although it certainly is — but that the rest of In the Grace of Your Love’s can’t avoid having a “move along, folks, nothing more to see here” feel to it. Sure there are a few bright spots amid a fairly dim album, but too few to redeem In the Grace of Your Love. The diverse range of genres represented here might indicate a lack of focus on the part of The Rapture; often it feels like the band doesn’t even recognize its own strengths.
“[i]Don’t ever look back[/i]” Luke Jenner sings over and over on opener [b]‘Sail Away’[/b]. All very well to say, but if, in 2011, you came across someone who’d never heard of [a]The Rapture[/a], what would you play them? New single [b]‘How Deep Is Your Love’[/b]? 2006’s [b]‘Get Myself Into It’[/b]? No. Something off the first album? Well, yes.
When the Rapture released Echoes (2003), the band’s breakthrough album, their brand of splintery Gang of Four-meets-the-‘80s-club-scene suddenly became codified into a genuine movement. Pitchfork led the way, with a fawning review written by head-Fork himself, Ryan Schreiber, which declared Echoes as the harbinger of a new age in music, one where irony was dead and free-spirited dance-punk would lead us to finally each embrace our inner child. The ‘Fork would go on to award Echoes its coveted Album of the Year slot in 2003, and many publications—and listeners—followed suit.
The practice of websites streaming albums before their official release is fairly commonplace nowadays, but hats off to The Rapture for adding a touch of novelty to the idea: three weeks before their new album In The Grace Of Your Love hit shops, the Brooklyn band trained a camera on a turntable set up in their label's offices and transmitted a live webcast of the record being played from start to finish. Every few minutes, an unidentified torso interrupted the shot to hold up a card bearing the marker pen-scrawled song title, or to flip the vinyl. With its endearingly shoddy DIY production values, the webcast served as a fitting homecoming, celebrating the band's return - following a near-decade long foray into major label limbo and recent shake-ups (original frontman Luke Jenner left the band in 2008 following the death of his mother, then returned, only for bassist and co-vocalist Matty Safer to depart for good soon after) - to the DFA fold.
When the Rapture came out with Echoes in 2003, the New York City band let us outsiders in on a little secret that hadn’t quite made it past city limits yet: Dancing at shows was OK. In fact, it wasn’t just OK—it was required. I learned this when I saw the band play a college show with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (what the hell happened to those guys?) in 2004.
A tired-sounding fourth album from a band trapped in the past. Garry Mulholland 2011 Things have not gone well for The Rapture since their Next Big Thing moment a decade ago. The New York-based then-quartet were the first band on the block to blend late-70s/early-80s post-punk with late-80s dance, providing the missing link between the hipster synth revival of the short-lived electroclash sub-genre and the more accessible pleasures of nu-rave.