Rapture need no introduction
The Rapture The Grace of Your Love (DFA)
It's eight years since the New Yorkers first whipped up a wave of excitement with their nervy mix of punky abrasion and dancefloor hedonism.
Give them their due, the Brooklyn quartet provided some fun romps to thrill the 24-hour party people among us. Who hasn't busted a move to No Sex for Ben?
Despite the energy and delightful self-awareness displayed on Pieces of the People We Love, there was an underlying concern that The Rapture mightn't have a particularly long shelf life.
Plenty of seemingly valid reasons were cited to back up this theory. Dance music tends to be labelled "last year's thing" very quickly and arty punks run out of steam.
When bass player Matt Safer quit the band a couple of years ago, it seemed the end was nigh. But the three remaining band members persevered and could be poised to enjoy a long-overdue breakthrough courtesy of the title track The Grace of Your Love, a timeless spiritual that might work equally well in a testifying church or Meat District club.
"In the grace of your love, no one can ever die . . ."
The springy melodic bass line that underpins this uplifting secular hymn is supplied by The Rapture's sax-playing multi-instrumentalist Gabriel Andruzzi. And a thing of beauty it is, poetic and propulsive.
Emblematic of the album, the track is an idiosyncratic melange. Almost equal parts Darryl Pandy, James Chance and Fela Kuti, its lyrical theme is continued on Never Gonna Die Again, a sizzling disco re-invention that marks the spot where Andrea True Connection morphed into Talking Heads. Complete with the accordion-driven Come Back To Me, on which Luke Jenner's voice is answered by a ghostly African chorus, these three tracks form a spellbinding album centrepiece.
"I welcome you into my head . . ." trills Jenner in an abandoned, yet dignified, manner. Clearly the lessons from Bono's vocal coach have paid dividends.
The Grace of Your Love was shaped in Paris earlier this year with local house producer Philippe Zdar (who also worked with Phoenix).
Having recorded the basic tracks in Brooklyn, The Rapture became excited by the subtle shifts in direction inspired by their sojourn in the City of Lights. When they promised the album would be "mystical and magical", they weren't far off the mark.
Unfortunately, it proved impossible to maintain this ecstatic spirit throughout the entire 11 tracks.
Roller Coaster is neither a great song nor a dancefloor classic. A yodelling novelty, it recalls '50s classic Sea Cruise, but without the hook.
Children is claustrophobic with massed voices, a bank of synths and trademark zippy hi-hat cymbals clogging the mix.
How Deep Is Your Love is neither the Bee Gees classic nor Take That's tune. Original, it could be an art rock celebration of Farley Jackmaster Funk. Who'd argue with that!
When the band are in full flow, as on Can You Find A Way (". . . to let yourself go") with pumping bass, cracking drums and stuttering percussion, The Rapture rock the house.