Preface: Many of you might have wondered what had become of Lipstick Communism, it’s dormancy leaving a harsh cry in the ears of its several dozen readers, its absence a bitter aftertaste of those who reveled in the opinions of a small few. Never mind our MIA status, we’re back with sincere apologies and I myself have returned after a bitter bout of writer’s block which lead to the dark annals of alcoholism, only to emerge with a tragic and besmirched worldview. And that just makes for better reading.
New York based dance-punk trio The Rapture played a major role in the whole post punk revival that was oh so popular in the early “aughts,” a scene that took a raw propensity and married it to the more electronic and dance elements that took hold of the 80’s and early 90’s and nearly strangled them. Whether this is something to be admired or cursed, The Rapture helped form a sound that was ruthlessly beaten like a horse just out on to the tracks, barely even able to consider a suitable place to die. But The Rapture did it in absence of conviction and with a desire to hold every instrument hostage until they got as much fun as they wanted out of it, lest we forget the all-too-important free jazz sax solos. In the Grace of Your Love, the third LP release from the band and a heart-warming return to the James Murphy DFA Empire Inc. should mark a union of the scratchy, rambunctious scatter shots that Echoes made you swoon over with the almost-too-polished-shoe-shined-dance-floor romps of Pieces of the People We Love. What ends up coming from five years of work and a brutal cowbell neglection is a band in an identity crisis, an album that the late Annie Lennox, were she alive, would probably soil her knickers over (RIP Annie Lennox, who is definitely, indisputably no longer alive.)
ITGOYL starts on a higher note with Sail Away, a forward moving proclamation that surges forth as a call to arms for skinny jeans everywhere. Its ringing guitar demands a stand to attention, and its synthesizer makes sweet love to the higher sine spectrum as they march forth until dissolving into a sax laden meditation of shaken bells and arpeggiated keyboard play. It’s a great start for an album that ends up being a bit of a Judas.
The following three tracks, Miss You, Blue Bird, and Come Back to Me expose the core conflict of this album. It’s unendearingly and half-heartedly schizophrenic. Miss You is better suited for a group dead set on reviving red lipstick and blazers emblazoned with shoulder pads, its come hither bass line and sideshow keys fitting wonderfully for a 80’s new wave band that takes itself too seriously. Blue Bird’s anthemic, bubbly rock is non-threatening and boring (please excuse my compromise of journalistic integrity, I simply don’t care.) Come Back to Me seems to try and grasp at straws as it simultaneously tries to infiltrate a demeanor of soulful club jam and dubstep sub-bass burner. None of these songs have enough to propel it from its initial premise into something more interesting. It’s the band trying to claim new territory while avoiding adding their own element, leaving the listener with a shrug to get off their shoulders.
The albums midpoint provides some much needed vigor. The title track really displays the band at its tightest. It’s a building pyre with Jenner’s vocal croons inviting layer after layer of trance-like synth and sharpened guitar to push through to a darkened spacious dance floor, lead by shaking percussion and vocal wahs that you can’t sit still through, it’s uncompromising and infectious. Good to see you’re still alive, guys. After the disco groove of Never Die Again, the album slinks back to its self-confidence issues, with the bouncing grating twinge of Rollercoaster, the nigh teen-punk anthem of Children and Can You Find a Way? which just might be a bad cover of Echoes’ I Need Your Love. I still haven’t figured that one out yet. Closer It Takes Time to Be a Man exudes psuedo-70’s soul male camaraderie as it implores you to trust your brother and remember that its hard figuring out where life is going. Its fun and unassuming, building to fond Hallelujahs and that ever important saxophone (so neglected on this record, a real shame.)
First Single and Trojan Horse How Deep Is Your Love?, with gospel piano fuel and unrelenting momentum, coupled with ITGOYL’s title track really show how great The Rapture can be when they’re confident. Joe knows they have the chops and, even if they’re leaving behind the unease and grit of their origins, they’re still capable of some major presence, their live shows reaffirming that fact. Just don’t look to the majority of this album expecting those sentiments.
Off In The Grace of Your Love