Because of Jenner, Roccoforte, and Andruzzi’s desires for extravagant luxury,
the dance-punk fans of the world have grown rich. – Revelation 18:3
The Rapture, the 15-year-old New York dance-punk band who recently broke up without bothering to inform the rest of us, won’t get a Shut Up and Play the Hits. That’s because there was no Madison Square Garden goodbye show to document like there was for LCD Soundsystem, whose James Murphy signed The Rapture to DFA Records in 2001. When an unglamorous group like this – Luke Jenner, vocals and guitar; Vito Roccoforte, drums; Gabriel Andruzzi, keyboards and saxophone; and, until 2009, Mattie Safer on bass – breaks up, the assumption is that they just don’t get along like they once did. Their final album, pending reunion, will go down as 2011’s In the Grace of Your Love, which was announced the day following the day that, according to California evangelist Harold Camping, was to mark the start of the real-deal biblical rapture, trumpets and all.
“Extravagant luxury” exaggerates what The Rapture did, maybe, but it gets at the sax-blowing ambition that would guide them through their career. People didn’t always dance at Rapture shows, but that’s because they were busy gawking at Jenner tapping circuital licks on his Telecaster, the guitar’s neck pitched at a 45 degree angle, perfectly bisecting the stage and the heavens. Roccoforte, Andruzzi, and, when he was around, Safer all inspired that same reverence in their own ways.
The musical futures of Jenner, Roccoforte, and Andruzzi are largely TBD. Jenner, who turns 40 next year, has everything he needs for something like a Dean Wareham-caliber solo career. Andruzzi has done good work producing smaller acts, and his studio acumen and sax skills will serve him well if he ever tries to make a Colin Stetson-style record on his own. Roccoforte has few credits outside his tenure with the band, but maybe he’ll try rap production and capture the attention of MCs who just like the fact that he shares his first name with the Godfather. Let’s wish them all well and hope that, at least for a little while, fans will refrain from asking about a possible reunion when they bump into these normal, exceedingly talented dudes on the street.
The Rapture’s guitar and bass riffs are explosive and unpredictable like an epileptic Jack-in-the-box, and “Echoes” is damn near clogged with them. But over the course of its three minutes, it also allots space for the band’s signature vocals-plus-drums hooks and a scraping, screaming free-for-all in the final seconds. No other song on Echoes covers as much primal ground, and only one, the 2:43 “The Coming of Spring”, is shorter. –Michael Madden
09. “It Takes Time To Be a Man”
Though not a gospel record, In the Grace of Your Love was, to an extent, about achieving emotional and romantic clarity by way of spirituality and faith. “It Takes Time To Be a Man”, with its repetitive, saloon-strutting piano and laid-back groove, is the closest Jenner comes to making a pitch for you to join his church. “There’s room at the mountaintop/ For everyone in God’s plan/ So just trust in your brother/ Let me help you if I can,” he sings, with a bible in one hand and his stitched-together heart in the other. Even the Jew in me is captivated. –Dean Essner
08. “The Devil”
Forgoing some of their more obvious influences, “The Devil” is an outright disco strut that is more reminiscent of the glitter of Studio 54 than the Paradise Garage. Knowing the importance of dropping and bringing back the groove is key to any great dance tune and, when the band take a quick rest halfway through and Jenner breaks into some dirty, out-of-breath moans, the song lurches back into life so suddenly that you can almost feel the rest of the earth catching up to it. That would be the clear highlight were it not for yet another drop that slowly builds into a dance-off between a glammy guitar solo and some grooving synths. An ecstatic rallying cry for the loss of all inhibitions (“Release the sin that lives in your heart / Let the devil cry out in the dark / Lifestyle is taking its toll / Let yourself go just lose all control”), Jenner is the preacher at the pulpit of sin, but he’s only preachin’ to the choir. –Stevie Dunbar
07. “Out of the Races and Onto the Tracks”
Before The Rapture would kick then present-day dance music up the ass, they blasted out this post punk-inspired, death disco floor-filling tune. All of the key signifiers of a Rapture tune are here: Jenner’s throaty yelp, dirty shuffling drums, and a guitar that sounds like it’s happily falling down the stairs in and out of time, but the lack of any sheen gives the song an aggressive edge. Don’t feel like dancing? Too bad, it’s time to follow Jenner’s lead and “shake, shake, shake, shake!” Sloppy and inelegant, this tune is only a lo-fi dream of what was to come next, but it’s a perfect example of how The Rapture were willing to throw down some hot and messy jams when everyone else was playing it safe. –Stevie Dunbar
06. “Olio” (Echoes version)
Kid A, Radiohead’s almighty puzzler from 2000, had wriggling, less-is-more electronica masterpieces like “Everything in Its Right Place” and “Idioteque”, and the five-and-a-half-minute “Olio” is as strong as either. There’s something haunted about the way Jenner gradually fades out, repeating the phrase “over and over and over again” until you forget what he’s referencing, if you ever knew. The opening song on The Rapture’s first full-length album, Echoes, “Olio” is far from an introduction that tells you everything you need to know about the band. That’s the point, though: Jenner’s cracking delivery is symptomatic of the missing pieces in his life that he’s trying to account for. –Michael Madden
Everybody has their own vision of heaven, but there’s a high chance yours is totally different from The Rapture’s view. The collage-like structure and pure freneticism of “Heaven” is The Rapture at their most unpredictable. Heaven is rarely depicted in such helter-skelter fashion, but it isn’t jolting as much as it’s engaging. In just under four minutes, we get a disorienting bass line, a hectic riff that comes from every direction you’re not looking, and a child’s church choir melody to lead into the song. Tying it all together is a singer with the emotional tact of a frayed wire. But despite the chaos, “Heaven” manages to win listeners with the raw energy behind its enigmatic structure, especially when it all chugs toward its climax out of nowhere near the end. “And if you focus very hard/ The train will come for you at last,” Jenner declares in atonal splendor. You’re pretty much down for whatever at that point. –Brian Josephs
04. “Whoo! Alright-Yeah…Uh Huh”
Despite the irreplaceable cowbell clangs that round out the groove on “House of Jealous Lovers”, I’d actually argue that “”Whoo! Alright-Yeah…Uh Huh” features The Rapture’s most savvy use of the instrument, which is saying something considering that the cowbell on “House of Jealous Lovers” birthed DFA Records’ trademark sound. The fact is “Whoo!…” is a party track, a blast of Franz Ferdinand-esque post punk that may be the band’s most danceable and fun moment. It may also be one of their more tight and rigid moments, devoid of any traces of disco’s loosey-goosey ethos. And all of this connects back to the cowbell as both the linear timekeeper and source of inspiration for all wild, syncopated dancing. –Dean Essner
03. “No Sex for Ben”
“No Sex for Ben” is a career outlier of sorts for The Rapture in terms of sound and lyrical intent. Yet, on a retrospective list, it needs to be be mentioned. Produced by Timbaland and created as a diss track for Ben Rymer of Fat Truckers, “No Sex for Ben” may be the best and sexiest parody of bad, white-trash hip-hop ever created. And the fact that it’s on the soundtrack for Grand Theft Auto IV, a game centered around crime and debauchery, only further cements its legacy. The Rapture, provided with the glitz and glamor of working with a high-profile producer for an even higher-profile video game, manage to get away with highway robbery. –Dean Essner
02. “House of Jealous Lovers”
For an underground anthem, or any song for that matter, “House of Jealous Lovers” has ubiquitous charm at its core thanks to the cowbell. Will Ferrell’s Gene Frenkel may have pushed the instrument into iconic status, but there is no joking around when it rises seconds into the track. There’s nothing to “get.” It’s a joyous, “Stop fucking around” siren. It’s a dance floor invitation for you, your cousins, your brother, your brother from another mother, muses, obsessions, exes, mom, nemeses, uncles’ wives, stranger from across the hall, and perhaps even the woman who’s been working at the grocery store around the corner for the past five years. Yes, this is the largest dance floor in the world, and the vertigo-inducing guitar riff combined with the tipsy, but addicting bass line takes “House of Jealous Lovers” into a new level of sonic urgency. “One hand ties the other,” Luke Jenner sings. It’s a serious image anywhere else, but with everything going on here and Jenner demanding a “SHAKEDOWN” afterward, it’s definitely a line of levity. Silly things like romance and human intimacy feel minor here. –Brian Josephs
01. “How Deep Is Your Love?”
As recycled titles go, “How Deep Is Your Love?”, which arrived 34 years after the Bee Gees song of the same name, is less snide than The Replacements’ Let It Be. Jenner’s vocal and the general thrust of the track, though, suggest that The Rapture wanted to wrestle the phrase out of the hands of the Gibbs brothers forever. They almost succeeded. There’s no doubt that Jenner instinctively knew the main piano progression here was special, but the build of it is the trick: post-punk hi-hatting, splashy hand claps, melting sax. “Let me hear that song,” Jenner sings, tapping the DJ’s shoulder with a wink – of course, this is what should be blaring from the speakers. –Michael Madden