In the Grace of Your Love
It's been a five-year absence for The Rapture, one-time vanguards of New York City dance-punk. They've lost long-time bassist/vocalist Matt Safer since then, almost broken up completely at least a few times, and jumped from their major-label patron Motown Universal back into the familiar arms of DFA. In the Grace of Your Love turns out to be a pretty heartwarming reunion, rather than a bus back to the minor leagues. The band instantly rivals Hot Chip as the dance label's most commercially confident flagship act (while LCD Soundsytem's James Murphy, having lapped both long ago, relaxes somewhere with a Mai Tai). It's an effortlessly eclectic record, straddling a handful of differing genres with panache. The band probably doesn't get enough credit for their range, even on Echoes, which seemed like such a monolithic emblem of a moment in time. The falsetto flourishes of "Blue Bird" are pure classic rock, climbing above a counterintuitive mash-up of frenzied motorik rhythm and lazy, "Champagne Supernova" grandiosity that just misses cohesion. "Come Back to Me" surrounds its solid beat with weird gypsy charm. "Miss You" has the tight and breezy groove of "Pieces of the People We Love," their spotty last record's unqualified jam. The music isn't as visceral as it once was—it's unfathomable that someone might mistake them for Public Image Limited now—but anchored by Luke Jenner's persistent wailing, the band's got an admirable breadth of style.
As a lyricist, Jenner traffics mainly in simple slogans of longing and exultation. The universality of his lyrics are actually distancing in a way. When given very similar backing tracks, it's easier to project yourself into Murphy's more specific, detail-rich narratives. Look to album opener "Sail Away," which aims to be a misty-eyed lighter lifter like LCD's "Home," but ends up lacking a unique personality. Jenner's most effective here when he's using explicitly religious language, actually (broad themes of love and forgiveness being preferable to biblical detail). The title track—solidly built from nifty, minimal John Carpenter synth repetition, playful guitar flicks, and unkempt cymbal bashing—could equally be about Jesus or some terrific lady (funny how those two subjects are often interchangeable in spiritual odes). But after the house piano has settled in on advance single "How Deep is Your Love?," Jenner repeatedly incanting "Hallelujah!" towards the end, it's pretty clear. Club producers have long alluded to the simultaneous life-changing and floor-filling capabilities of a good body-mover, and this song conflates the physically and spiritually transcendent better than most. It was once easy to assume that the band was named after the secular sensation, but all this God-flecked disco (that I will from now on refer to as Christco) casts doubt on that. The closing 70s rock ballad, "It Takes Time to Be a Man," assures "there's room on the mountaintop for everyone in God's plan," has a hallelujah jag of its own. It's usually cause for rolled eyes when an artist's long unproductive streak is termed "soul-searching," but boy is it apt in this case.
Photo ruvan Wijesooriya