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The Rapture - In the Grace of Your Love

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Artist: The Rapture

Album: In the Grace of Your Love

Label: DFA

Review date: Sep. 1, 2011

The Rapture - "How Deep is Your Love" (In the Grace of Your Love)

Saturday night and Sunday morning are notoriously incompatible times to be awake, which perhaps goes some way toward explaining the unlikely arms race of Big Promises offered by, respectively, club music and religion. From club music, it’s all “I feel the music risin’ up in my soul”; from religion, “perfect love casteth out fear ...” Themes of infinitude and access to the intangible course through both institutions, so much so that we might say both DJs and preachers are in the business of selling ecstasy (etymologically, the separation of mind and body — the latter stultified to grant the former its higher pursuits), hooking their audiences on visions of transcendence.

Club music has never been able to hide its dependence on a holy ghost, and is often at its best when it doesn’t try. That can mean grandiose lines like “dance like it’s the last night of your life” and “in the beginning there was house music” that either work or don’t work but aim for Alpha Centauri with every shot. For some artists, the link between musical and religious scale is part of the plan. Others emulate spiritual exultation as a kind of performance resource.

The Rapture signed up for this approach in blood when they chose their name, and they’ve made good on it for a decade with their intermittent but always heavy-heavy releases. The latest, In the Grace of Your Love, does not retreat from the band’s mission. Luke Jenner is not a gifted singer, but he is charismatic. He serves up every line as if he has no idea where it’ll come down, but also demonstrates that he’s too engrossed in the process to care. That fearlessness is what makes us want to follow him again and again, even if previous landings weren’t the cleanest.

On several tracks here we can almost imagine Jenner clad in a powder blue suit two sizes too small, knees in the deep red carpet, microphone in one fist and sweat rag in the other, asking us to be as “Children” “In the Grace of [his] Love,” so that we might “Never Die Again.” Of course redemption is not a given; after all, “It Takes Time to be a Man,” and we must test ourselves to know “How Deep is [Our] Love?”

Sadly, I count only one song here that moves me like that, the glorious “How Deep is Your Love,” which builds onto a spare minor-key piano riff to develop into a classic DFA genre amalgam that’s at once both nostalgic and modern. The chorus soars, and when the instruments pull back to let Jenner sing the refrain a few times before a tenor sax enters, one feels — knows — that there is hope.

The rest of the album, however, is uniformly mediocre, except where it’s terrible. Tracks like “Sail Away” are standard-issue post-punk dance lemons that never leave the lot. Others, including “Blue Bird,” employ a confusing experimentalism, with bizarrely off-tempo drums and compositional shifts unbecoming of a pop song. Blame their fancy new French producer. “Roller Coaster,” meanwhile, has a goofy melody, inane lyrics, and guitar soloing so weak and porous that the most generous label I could give it would be naïve art – through a few listens, I did my best to appreciate it in that register.

One of the risks of having faith is becoming deaf to plain truths. The truth in this case is that most of In the Grace of Your Love is lousy.

By Ben Tausig

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