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. By the time the Rapture returned with a major label-backed sophomore album that helped prove Danger Mouse wasn’t infallible, we had already moved on to bigger fish, on to stuff that seemed like it mattered. The Rapture could continue to make music that longed for 1977 all they wanted: We gave them their spin on the blog hype cycle (one of the earliest), and we were busy building up Birdmonster (this really happened).
That the Rapture still exist in 2011, nine years after “House of Jealous Lovers” started crashing QuickTime players, is probably the biggest news surrounding the band’s fourth album, In the Grace of Your Love. Entire generations of buzz bands and trends have come and gone in the time since the Rapture, and yet they persevere, even after losing bassist Matt Safer a few years ago. But this isn’t the same band we fought over a decade ago: the Rapture are no longer cannibalizing disco records, and they no longer sound like their record collection is dominated by Talking Heads LPs. No, the Rapture have found house music, making them the new spiritual kin to (sometime) label mates Hercules & Love Affair. That the Rapture level Hercules & Love Affair in this pursuit will go unreported here, however, mostly because In the Grace of Your Love is the weakest Rapture album yet. This is the album that Pieces of the People We Love was derided as, a substance-light album that might as well be dance punk for elevators.
But that doesn’t mean In The Grace of Your Love is an album to ignore. Like every Rapture album before it, In the Grace of Your Love is built around a handful of unbeatable singles, and padded mercilessly with filler. The title track lays out the new Rapture sound, with its tropical synths and guitars leading the way towards an emotionally needy chorus. But it’s just a warm up to the piano-led “How Deep Is Your Love?,” arguably the best Rapture track yet (no joke), an ever-building, towering monument to everything enjoyable about house music. When Luke Jenner gets to the breakdown three-quarters of the way through, wailing “How deep is your love” while his band lays down cement crushing backbeats, you’ll swear the Rapture are the greatest band on earth again.
But to get there, you have to wade through odious filler, from the credit card commercial ready “Blue Bird,” the Free Energy-lite bubblegum sway of “Children,” and a song about love being a roller coaster (“Roller Coaster”). That the album backs out of the room with its worst song (“It Takes Time to Be a Man”) is a bad sign too. But I’m inclined to allow the Rapture the weak moments, mostly because when they climax on “How Deep Is Your Love?,” they’re among the best dance groups not filed under Soundsystem, LCD. And maybe that’s the point: When the Rapture did have the Internet on lock, they were a really great singles band pushing an album out for more legitimacy. Now they’re releasing In the Grace Of Your Love under the radar, and they’re still a damn fine singles band. The flashes of the old Rapture are far too few, but when they’re there, In The Grace of Your Love proves that the Rapture have lived long enough to outrun their hype. They’ll never live down “House of Jealous Lovers,” but who the hell could?