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THE RAPTURE

February 28th 2012 04:47
“IN THE GRACE OF YOUR LOVE”

Available 2 September

It’s been five years since The Rapture completed work on their second album, Pieces Of The People We Love, but though it might sound strange, the half-decade that followed may in retrospect turn out to be the most productive and important of their career. This is, after all, a band whose 2003 DFA-produced debut, Echoes, was the focus of an extreme label bidding war and went on to earn Pitchfork’s Album Of The Year accolade, helping to define an entire musical movement and giving the world a timeless classic, ‘House of Jealous Lovers’, in the process. That follow-up, Pieces Of The People We Love, was produced by three of the world’s finest - Danger Mouse, Ewan Pearson and Paul Epworth - and effortlessly went on to hit the No.1 spot in the Billboard Heatseeker’s Chart. But the party atmosphere it showcased hid the fact that, behind the scenes, there were schisms within the band. “It was,” as Luke Jenner (vocals, guitar) puts it quietly, “a difficult time for the band interpersonally. We took a detour for a minute, wanting to catch lightning in a bottle twice, and lost ourselves in the process. Things were not as fun as when we started. What we learned from all the major label chasing is that, who cares about the results if the process sucks?””


Half a decade on, though, and their third album is evidence that it’s time for a second coming. In The Grace Of Your Love, recorded following the 2009 departure of bassist and vocalist Mattie Safer, is a record every bit as joyful as the band’s name would have you expect: the sound of a band set free. Though Luke Jenner identifies forgiveness as the dominant theme of the record, there’s another unifying thread that runs through it, and that’s the sense of elation at the heart of even the most poignant tracks. Almost every one of the 11 songs on offer here has distinctly celebratory characteristics, and so it seems more than appropriate that the album also sees them return to the DFA fold once more, only a little shy of a decade after they first collaborated with one another. Except that this time it’s the whole label, rather than the production team, behind them.


Talking to the band, it’s clear that events that could have been a real test for them were in actual fact liberating. “It opened up a lot of space creatively and personally,” Gabriel Andruzzi (keyboards, saxophone, percussion) says, and his thoughts are echoed by his band mates. “I think we all had more room and creative freedom,” Vito Roccoforte (drums) elaborates. “We were able to stretch out again and push ideas further because of that. We focussed on the process rather than the results. We approached the album in a fearless manner, with nothing to lose.”

And so, as ‘Come Back To Me’, one of the album’s standout tracks, has it, they welcomed back their spirit: into their feet, into their heart and into their head. In a sense they’d been reborn - “if rebirth is coming full circle,” Andruzzi clarifies, though he adds that, “we also have the benefit of years of experience and mistakes” - and their choice of producer helped heighten the belief that they had rediscovered what made them so special. Cassius alumnus Philippe Zdar, fresh from his success on Phoenix’s Grammy Award winning album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, rushed to work with them after hearing only three demos, and the enthusiasm and passion he brought to the table clearly helped the band, as Andruzzi puts it, “complete the process. Philippe has loads of energy, love and a great sense of humour, and encouraged us to experiment fearlessly. I have never felt so comfortable and confident making a record.”

Rocccoforte is again right there by his colleague’s side, agreeing that, “this was the first time that the making of an album was totally enjoyable. He really believed in us and the album.” But the benefits of his presence behind the desk were not merely psychological: In The Grace of Your Love is arguably the best sounding record The Rapture have ever made, thanks, Jenner believes, to the fact that he wanted, “to bring out the love in the band rather than focus on the scratchier elements.” And so the recording sessions – which began in Brooklyn at the newly opened Gary’s Electric, and continued at Motorbass, Zdar’s brand new state-of-the-art studio in Paris – birthed a record that connects with both what they love most about music and why they love to play it.

You can hear it all the way through: in the triumphant opener, ‘Sail Away’, which cosies up to a disco shuffle while Jenner’s distinctive vocal sets a genuinely massive chorus alight, climaxing with the valedictory salute “I don’t ever look back”. It’s in ‘It Takes Time To Be A Man’, where the band take the simplest of elements – a David Crosby-esque riff, a ticklish piano line, a gentle hint of funk, a luxuriant sax solo – and craft a classic album closer that allows Jenner to conclude with an equally satisfying, defiantly positive farewell: “I bet you can get what you need / Come on, sugar, and try…”

And, naturally, it’s there all points in between: in the exhilarating ‘Come Back To Me’, which finds Andruzzi using elements of Franco’s ‘Likambo Ya Ngana’ and taking them to the dancefloor; in the flamboyant ‘Can You Find A Way’ and in the sassy swing of ‘Never Die Again’; in the pile-driving stomp of ‘Blue Bird’ and in ‘Roller Coaster’, both of which mysteriously evoke the spirit of Chris Bell. Frankly, In The Grace Of Your Love is overflowing with ready baked classics, and that’s before you even start to think about the title track itself, around whose spidery, Tom Verlaine-esque guitar line Jenner weaves a simple but unforgettably redemptive melody that matches anything they’ve ever done before. You get the feeling that Roccoforte must be being coy when he suggests that, “there is a lot of heart and soul in this record”, because what it’s really got is guts. And in the guts is where it hits you.

Perhaps the most striking aspect of the album, however, is the abundance of sentiment that lies at its core, whether it be ‘Never Die Again’’s ecstatic chant of “You got me flying / Flying in your love…“ or the candid, almost throwaway “you’re kind” hidden in ‘How Deep Is Your Love?’ And it’s brilliantly illustrated in the cover image, a photo of Jenner’s father seemingly walking on water, chosen for the purest of reasons: “I lost my mother to mental illness, suicide, four years ago. I wanted to acknowledge my love for my father while he is still here on this earth.” As Roccoforte concludes, “the cover just made sense”.

God knows, if In The Grace Of Your Love doesn’t make Jenner’s father as proud as it justifiably seems to have made The Rapture, nothing will.
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