A lot of water has passed under the bridge in the five years since The Rapture‘s last release; Matt Safer parted ways with the band, who’ve opted to continue as a three-piece, and they’ve returned to the DFA fold after their brief stint with Universal. Inevitably, the musical landscape has changed somewhat in that time, which could be why In The Grace Of Your Love hasn’t been awaited with the same sense of anticipation as its predecessors. Or perhaps it’s because people’s expectations have been lowered after they dropped the rather patchy Pieces Of The People We Love – a disappointing follow-up to their highly-acclaimed debut LP. Either way, you get the sense that The Rapture have reached a watershed moment in their career.
On pressing play, the initial feeling is of disappointment – the kind that makes you slump back in your chair and brace for a long 50 minutes. Specifically, it’s the generic Rapture-by-numbers nature of the opening track, ‘Sailing’, that sets alarm bells ringing, making you wonder if the group are just going through the motions, persevering with the misfirng Pieces… formula. It’s a trait that plagues the following brace of tracks, too, before ‘Come Back To Me’, with its looped accordion samples, the almost gospel-like delivery of the vocals and dirty synth-bass breakdown make you sit up and pay attention. This may not be so bad after all.
And it isn’t. Tracks like ‘Never Gonna Die Again’ and ‘Can You Find A Way’, with their warm, upbeat club-friendly groove, soon consign the rough beginning to distant memory and with ‘It Takes Time To Be A Man’, the band have composed the perfect whimsical album-closer. Almost inevitably, the real stand-out tune on the record is the lead single, ‘How Deep Is Your Love’, a surefire dancefloor favourite with a piano line lifted right out of 1991 and a chorus oddly reminiscent of Sisqo’s ‘Thong Song’. It’s one of the best songs they’ve written.
With In The Grace Of Your Love, The Rapture have definitely regained a solid footing, but despite its highpoints it’s hard not to feel that something is still amiss. By delving further into a club-oriented sound it’s as if they’re insistent on moving away from the dark, abrasive nature of Echoes, and perhaps also the expectation that album placed upon them. It’s understandable, of course, but the fire displayed in the riotous tracks from that time has been noticeable by its absence ever since. Meanwhile, they’re still intent on shoehorning that bloody saxophone into every empty space. But if this is the new Rapture sound going forward, then so be it – it’s still good to have them back.