It's been five years since the Rapture released a new album and six since the band toured. So, yes, you can call the group's new joyously jangly and danceable studio album, In the Grace of Your Love, and its headlining tour a comeback of sorts.
But despite all of that, in the long gap after 2006's major-label Pieces of the People We Love, the band was constantly working, says drummer Vito Roccoforte. After touring to support the 2006 disc, frontman-guitarist Luke Jenner quit and returned, bassist-singer Mattie Safer left for good, and the group enjoyed a radio smash in Australia (for the videogame-only release "No Sex for Ben"), all while attempting to write music.
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It was Safer's departure in 2009, though, that led to a clean break with the past and a recharged surge of writing energy that would become In the Grace of Your Love. In the ensuing years, the musical landscape was reshaped in significant ways. When the Rapture first appeared in the late '90s, dance music and the DIY aesthetic had never met. But these days, club beats crossed with party rock are ubiquitous. Enough time has passed, in fact, that the band is now hailed as a major forerunner of the so-called dance-punk movement, a label from which the group has always shied away.
"It just sounds weird to me. If someone said, 'Hey, check out this dance-punk,' I don't think I would be excited about that," Roccoforte says. "But it's true — when 'House of Jealous Lovers' came out [as a single in 2001, and on the group's breakout 2003 album Echoes] or even before that, what we were trying to do just wasn't happening in the indie or punk music culture. Nowadays, it's not even a second thought."
Luckily, though, on the new record, the Rapture hasn't tried to fix what isn't broken. If the new material is a little less heavy on the punk part — Jenner's yelping vocals have pitched down, for one — it's perhaps even heavier on the groove. Lead single "How Deep Is Your Love" is a live disco shake-out, full of buildups pegged to Roccoforte's swinging drum work and even a killer saxophone breakdown.
In concert, the payoff is extended, and that sort of building up and breaking down of dance-floor tension is characteristic of the band's show as a whole. "We approach it as a DJ set, so it builds and then has peaks and flows in different ways," Roccoforte explains. "We're constantly messing with and tweaking the set list. Live, we just try to have a big party."