The Rapture, flagship group of ultra-hip label DFA, made
their splash in 2002 with “House of Jealous Lovers.” The song’s
very presence was unique on the underground rock circuit, as its
genius lay not in melody or arrangement, but in the 10,000 spastic
dances it inspired. The band has become symbolic of the dance-punk
movement, one that still hovers well below radio airwaves, but has
had a profound effect on the rhythmically stoic underground.
Those who first started tripping over themselves to “House of
Jealous Lovers” will find a lot to like on Echoes. The
Rapture rely heavily on frantic drumming, elastic bass lines and a
slashing, shrapnel guitar attack. The lyrics, true to the band’s
dance roots, are simplistic and involve a lot of chanting and
repetition, but they never feel hokey or contrived. Tracks like
“Killing” and “Sister Savior” should cement the group into the
playlist of forward-thinking dance clubs.
For all of its impressive rhythmic constructions , however, the
band’s greatest asset is its ability to skirt dance music’s chief
flaw: it’s only interesting in a crowded room. “I Need Your Love”
and “The Coming of Spring” are notable both for their contagious
energy and their excellent arrangements, while “Open Up Your Heart”
and “Love Is All” reveal impressive melodic range. “Olio” is the
clincher: a perfect synthesis of icy piano stabs, whining keyboards
and incessant drumming – it’s a glorious, mesmerizing synthesis of
the band’s strengths.
The Rapture will undoubtedly be given credit for pioneering a
sound and a movement, and while this sort of hyperbole is painfully
misguided, the group should be given plenty of credit for what it
has done: interpreting the scratchy punk rock as a sweaty, frantic
dance party. Oh, there will still be naysayers. “More Yo La Tengo!”
they’ll cry. “Give me Pavement or give me death,” they’ll moan.
It’s alright, though: their voices are fading under the sound of
Converse All-Stars smacking mightily against the sweat and
beer-soaked floors of punk clubs everywhere.
Rating: 4 stars