By: Eric Greenwood
Despite what you'll invariably read elsewhere, The Rapture's sloppy, clanging post-punk rage is completely hit or miss, and this long-awaited full-length is the definition of anti-climactic. For every badass mind-fuck like "Out Of The Races And Onto The Tracks", there are twice as many unlistenable duds in the band's arsenal. Let's face it- Gang Of Four, The Rapture is not. The band's shrill and splintery guitars more so recall a shallower Bauhaus: high on Gothic histrionics, low on hooks.
On its ridiculously hyped new album, Echoes, the band allowed hipster producers, DFA, to reshape some of its signature tunes- a move that will go down as an egregious miscalculation for all the life it sucks out of the band's music.
The "re-worked" version of "Olio" that opens Echoes immediately rams a bad taste down your throat, as its guts have been ripped out and replaced with blockheaded 808 beats. The original guitar riff (found on the band's full-length for Gravity from 1999, entitled Mirror) was the heart of the song. Replacing it with stale techno schlock is just lazy, especially when the thinly-veiled Cure rip-off was barely interesting to begin with.
Luke Jenner's strained and painful wail, warbled yelp, atonal whine (you pick) is consistently annoying, yet sometimes he can misjudge the notes so badly that he accidentally strikes gold. As "Heaven" kicks in, the familiarly tuneless jangle funk is back, but when Jenner isn't losing his shit vocally (i.e. shrieking), he sounds like flat/bad Robert Smith Karaoke.
The monotonous piano ballad "Open Up Your Heart" is abominable from start to finish. Not only does Jenner sound like Chris Kattan's whinnying, nasally Azrael character from Saturday Night Live's "Goth Talk", but his lyrics pierce your eardrums with offensive cliché after offensive cliché: "when you're sad and lonely", for example. He should be fined for willfully dropping such excrement out of his mouth.
When The Rapture is on, it can trick you into believing all the hype, and "House Of Jealous Lovers" does just that. It's a clunky, post-punk disco ball, replete with bat-out-of-hell vocal yelps and stinging guitar jabs, and it escalated The Rapture to darling status amongst the trend-setting elite last year when it surfaced on the DFA-produced EP of the same name.
The band's musical references are admittedly diverse, pillaging everything from the ubiquitous disco-punk of Gang Of Four to the coke-infested glam of Bowie's mid '70's work to Robert Smith's showier death knells to calculated, programmed sleekness. It's all so safely tucked behind utter vapidity that no one can scoff and call it emotional. But for all the nerdy, arrhythmic kids that lap this stuff up as some sort of badge of hipness, profundity is not required.