For those looking for an album chock full of dance floor jams, The Rapture’s In the Grace of Your Love, isn’t for you. Yet, what the NYC-based band’s fourth full-length album, lacks in cohesion, it tries to makes up for in diversity. The album takes on house beats, retro disco, new wave and even James Brown-era soul for a journey through lead singer Luke Jenner’s rocky recent past.
The seminal dance-punk trio’s first album in five years pours Jenner’s thoughts on love, life and the future into an amalgam of vocal-driven, punchy cuts. Since their mediocre 2006 offering Pieces of the People We Love, Jenner lost his mother to suicide, quit and rejoined The Rapture, and reconciled his relationship as a son, husband and father. Regardless, Jenner rebounded to showcase his unique, yelp-y voice on In the Grace of Your Love.
Opener “Sail Away” sets the album off with a bang, exploding with unmemorable but catchy synths ready to make anyone dance. The track foreshadows the oft-mentioned, but poorly elaborated themes of pain, trust and love. While electro albums aren’t made to win any literary awards, lyrics such as “I look away / I see pain / But with you / I see hope” are difficult to swallow.
At their best, The Rapture was known for the 2002 dance-punk classic “House of Jealous Lovers,” featuring cowbell, a memorable bass line and Jenner’s powerful, off-key voice. This effort injects their sound with infectious house beats on “How Deep Is Your Love?” with a catchy rave-piano hook and a ‘70s disco feel. But, many of their other tracks lack this instant appeal that brought them their initial fame.
In Grace of Your Love pushes a fact that many contemporary electro bands often forget — that they’re still a rock band. On cuts like “Blue Bird” and “Roller Coaster,” The Rapture flex their garage and psychedelic influences with limited success. “Blue Bird” calls to mind a strange mixture of synth-y Oasis, while “Roller Coaster” spirals into melodic confusion.Regardless, the confidence of The Rapture shines throughout the album. And, their experimentation is successful on the jangly electropop track “Children” and the soulful slow jam “It Takes Time to Be a Man.” “Children” successfully channels a fan-friendly Cut Copy or Passion Pit track, while “It Takes Time to Be a Man” shows that The Rapture have spirit even when they aren’t trying to make you dance. The latter track also depicts Jenner’s burgeoning spiritual side, telling his listeners that “there’s room at the mountaintop / For everyone in God’s plan.”
Throughout the album, The Rapture build a fuller sound than was heard on previous efforts, with horns, intricate guitar and choral background vocals. “Can You Find a Way” features Talking Heads’-esque off-kilter funky beats and a mix of instrumentation. “Come Back to Me” offers a nice middle ground between new and old, combining seductive tribal beats and accordion loops with Jenner’s voice at the forefront. Even on the less successful tracks, the band’s fullness and maturity shines through hit-or-miss experimentation.
On In the Grace of Your Love the art-rockers push the same boundaries that they defined 13 years ago with mixed success. While the album might not be one to listen to on repeat, it offers a handful of synth-heavy cuts that stray into catchy expanses of modern house, ‘70s disco and pointed electro cuts.