The Rapture - "How Deep Is Your Love" (MP3)
New York dance-punk trio The Rapture haven’t exactly garnered their renown through prolific releases – in their decade-plus tenure churning out songs whose almost-painful, knife-sharp guitar riffs get right in your head and whittle off chunks of your brain, the band is only just releasing its third full-length album, In the Grace of Your Love. Whether it’ll be anathema or boon to you depends largely on what you like the Rapture for – the dance, or the punk? For better or worse, the general Rapture M.O., by which I mean that brutal guitar, Luke Jenner’s matching hyper-versatile wail, and throbbing clubby bass that sounds like what you’d probably hear walking down the street in Ibiza at 2 AM in 1980, has undergone a bit of a revamp in the long five years since 2006’s Pieces of the People We Love. That record’s hints of a lean toward the R&B-smooth (think that bubbly funk bassline from “Whoo! Alright – Yeah… Uh Huh”) have only percolated into the full-scale club jams that pack In the Grace of Your Love.
If you were looking for another “Out of the Races and Onto the Tracks,” you’re out of luck, but if you’re looking for sweaty dance music, you’ve struck a rich vein of pure gold. The whole thing is the glittering soundtrack to your daydream vacation and/or post-elopement honeymoon to some hot and green tropical place where the clubs never close and the drinks are brightly-colored and bottomless and your love interest tanned and smiling and always wearing white. This is the record you somehow figure out a way to play on your pristine sailboat in the light breeze (“Sail Away,” which commands a U2-like mastery over its own wide-open space, might fit that moment best), and the record that plays when you are drunk and alone on the beach at night (“Come Back to Me” has a euro-disco pulse and echo and title-appropriate melancholy bewilderment courtesy Jenner’s singular wail), and the record that plays during all your love scenes (“In the Grace of Your Love” casts that grace as a physical place, dizzyingly sensual, confusing and dark), and the record that plays when you go to some neon carnival (“Roller Coaster,” duh).
In short, this isn’t Echoes. All that New York claustrophobia, that tight, nervous, angry guitar that cut your brain in pieces, is gone, replaced by the tidal heartbeat ebb and flow of synths and computerized percussion. When the guitar appears it winds in tangled arpeggios around funky bass, dance-y organs, and staccato drums — gorgeously on the title track, probably the record’s strongest point — or relegates itself to the background — “Blue Bird” and “Never Die Again” would probably be the record’s closest matches to old-school Rapture material if those clean, Strokes-y chords were mixed a little above the bass.
It makes sense that storied electro label DFA will release In the Grace of Your Love – the record sees the Rapture take a confident stance next to that label’s electro-dance frontrunners in LCD Soundsystem, Hot Chip, YACHT, Hercules and Love Affair, and countless other bands. In the Grace of Your Love is different for the band, and that cannot be denied, but it’s every bit as catchy and toe-tappingly irresistible. You might want to stop referring to the Rapture as “New York dance-punk trio,” because one of the words in that hyphenate doesn’t really apply anymore.