Though The Rapture wore the Next Big Thing tag with more grace than some mid-’00s contenders—see “Mooney Suzuki, The”—the New York art-rockers’ bid for mainstream success was a bit of a letdown, given that it led them away from the atmospheric, beat-crazy post-punk that won them so many fans in the first place. Give The Rapture credit for conviction, though. The band’s new album, In The Grace Of Your Love, is more DIY-sounding than 2006’s slick major-label effort Pieces Of The People We Love—and it’s back on indie label DFA to boot—yet Grace still burns with disco fever. In a way, this is the transitional album The Rapture should’ve made before Pieces, showing ambition within the context of spirited play.
The difference is that while Pieces sounded like a polished-up version of a Rapture album, Grace sounds much stranger. For every hands-in-the-air, club-ready track like “Sail Away” and “How Deep Is Your Love?,” In The Grace Of Your Love features a kitschy, squiggly retro-pop number like “Miss You,” or a rattling early-Talking Heads homage like “Roller Coaster.” And even “Sail Away” ends with a minute-long free jazz coda that sounds like an outtake from a late-’60s Miles Davis session.
In short: Grace may require an adjustment period from Rapture fans more used to skeletal dance-rock with a heavy Cure influence. On this album, the touchstones are both the cheesy and dense sides of early-’80s new wave, with a lot of two-note keyboard riffs and complicated polyrhythms fighting for space beneath frontman Luke Jenner’s choppy yelps. At their core, though, what these songs have in common—with each other and with what The Rapture has done before—is a constructive spirit. The band starts with a sometimes-tiny foundational idea, and then builds up and up, just to see how high it can go.