Sunday, 11 September 2011

REVIEW: The Rapture - In The Grace Of Your Love

What has happened to The Rapture? I first heard them almost a decade ago and was stunned by their classic 'House Of Jealous Lovers' and the excellent album 'Echoes'. I wasn't too familiar with 2006's 'Pieces Of The People We Love' but I was impressed by the few tracks I had heard from it. So I was very pleased by the news that the band were finally to release their third full-length this year, an album that I had high hopes for and was most looking forward to. But from the very first listen it becomes clear that this group have lost their way. It turns out that bassist Matt Safer is no longer with the band, hence the noticeable lack of those dirty funk basslines that used to drive the grooves so well. Luke Jenner's voice has changed from a crazed yelp into something more emotional, and it doesn't always impress but the main problem is with the songs themselves.

Let's begin with the positives: 'How Deep Is Your Love' is an incredibly addictive moment and a wise choice for lead single that puts the rest of this album to shame. It's a soulful, vibrant floorfiller powered by a superb house piano hook and decorated with perfectly-placed handclaps and even a hazy sax, providing this record with its magic moment. Sadly it's the only magic moment we get. Mind you 'Never Die Again' is a pretty good exception, sounding like a mixture of Kool And The Gang and Public Image Ltd, but complete with (what used to be) The Rapture's trademark filthy bass and cowbell.

'Sail Away' fizzles with promise but turns out to be a long verse begging for a chorus, going nowhere before ending with a pointless minute of tuneless keyboards and random jazz noises. Then there's 'Miss You' which can't decide whether it's a weak attempt at Stevie Wonder-esque soul or an anaemic glam rock stomp. Either way it fails. 'Bluebird' aims for a mixture of spaced out post punk and psychedelic drone rock but just comes across as an unfinished idea. 'Come Back To Me' is a Parisian-styled house track with a bizarre French accordion hook and a repetitive vocal line. Halfway through the song turns into a remix of itself as you get the sense they couldn't find any other way to make the song progress.

The title track is interesting for about a minute with its shuffling drums, smart funk bass and incredibly simplistic guitar hook but after a brief bit of promise the track fails to do anything else and loses my attention well before the halfway mark. Again they have some good ideas but the songwriting is so unremarkable, and many of these songs fail to make any kind of meaningful impact. 'Rollercoaster' is just a bad idea and grates horribly, while 'Children' is lifeless, dull grey electro pop that sounds like a bad emo band crying because someone's stolen their guitars and replaced them with synths. Or like a bad version of The Bravery. You just get the impression that their hearts just aren't in it. 'Can You Find A Way' has some urgent rhythms but again is another verse in need of a proper song. They drop interesting sounds everywhere but nothing happens, it just repeats itself to underwhelming effect.

This album took five years to make and features two good songs plus a lot of incomplete ideas, lazy songwriting and many bad musical decisions. As an album it sounds completely unfocused, untidy and incoherent. A massive disappointment. 4.5/10

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