The Rapture is upon us! Those New York dance, proto-punk, electronic, indie, prog rock, whatever-you-call-’ems are back at it. Three years after releasing the critically acclaimed Echoes, the foursome return with Pieces of the People We Love.
Although the title sounds more emo than Dashboard Confessional on horse tranquilizers, The Rapture make those indie hipsters shake their tight-jeaned asses with up-tempo, synth-driven neo-disco pop. But beyond the Converse-kid dance steps lurk dreadful lyrics and the lack of the punk punch that Echoes dropped into the indietronic world. Those problems aside, The Rapture still produce an highly addictive and noteworthy addition to the indie-electro-dance world – even without the punk this time around.
Since the birth of the new millennial dance-pop craze, groups like !!!, The Scissor Sisters, Franz Ferdinand and LCD Soundsystem have been reaping the benefits of the again-popular disco-dance format. And whereas The Rapture’s Echoes added that touch of punk to the equation, it seems like it’s been shelved in favor of marketability and club popularity this time around. Pieces abandons the gritty guitar and occasional lyrical screams in favor of a more focused and electro-motivated effort.
A surefire way to brew success for an album is to include Danger Mouse as a producer (see: The Grey Album, Demon Days, St. Elsewhere). While the goateed wonder doesn’t mix the entire album, he does punch in on the title track. And why not take the whole Gnarles Barkley experience, you ask? Well, the New Yawkers do with Cee-Lo providing backing vocals. The lovechild turns out surprisingly well as a mid-tempo, digital Danger Mouse beat and synthesized handclaps lead way to Cee-Lo’s vocal “nah nahs” along with high-low hits that beg for a car commercial.
The brass-knuckle guitar work on Echoes still resonates through portions of the new album. “The Sound” draws on their previous hit “House of Jealous Lovers” with the same grating guitar stanzas and chaotic background squeals. And while much of the song sounds like it was recorded in a buzz-saw factory, the addictive, cat-scratching guitars and piercing vocal histrionics create just the perfect amount of chaos – an amount begging for gyrations on a dance floor.
“The Devil” exhibits how high a man’s voice can go as leadman Luke Jenner rattles through what sounds like an asylum-as-dancefloor orgasm. The shrill vocals, steady cowbell clacks and kindergarten-like drumming systematically blend to provide a sexually charged, torso-tweaking anthem.
While some songs echo that good ol’ Rapture sentiment sans punk influence, some suffer from grotesque lyrical pitfalls. “First Gear” rambles on for more than six minutes with a chorus of “My, my, my, my Mustang Ford.” “Get Myself Into It” sounds like a blatant rip-off of !!!’s “Hello? Is This Thing On?” with the same trumpet bleats, but with a porno-funk riff and the stellar line of “Don’t talk shit / Out with it.”
Slipshod verse aside, The Rapture to accomplish exactly what they set out to do: create addictive and fun electro-dance to entice indie rockers to move. No more punk influence, but a rhythmic dancefloor that gets disco ready for the next decade.
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Pieces of the People We Love