To a chorus of quips that maybe the Christian lunatics predicting the Rapture this year were right after all, news has been seeping out over recent weeks that The Rapture have a new album due out next month. It turns out that the record is called In the Grace of Your Love, and the world got its first taste of the new songs a couple of nights back when the band hosted a virtual listening party, playing the LP test pressing over a live web stream from DFA’s offices. If you missed it, never fear — a video of the event has now surfaced on Vimeo, and it sounds… well, it’s interesting listening, that’s for sure. Have a listen — and read along with our first impressions — after the jump.
0:01: Here we go…
0:02: Wait, isn’t this “House of Jealous Lovers”?
1:20: Right, first new track. A guy in a DFA T-shirt — presumably it’s one of the band, although his head’s cut off, so it’s impossible to tell — stands in front of camera with a hand-written sign, announcing the title: “Sail Away.”
2:00: As far as album openers go, this is great: epic keyboard swells, a loping beat, and Luke Jenner yelping a shamelessly romantic us-against-the-world lyric. So far, so good.
4:45: A sumptuous outro, too, with big synth pads and an icy lead, fracturing into free jazz sax that sounds kinda like Spiritualized’s “The Individual.”
5:50: Toy piano!
6:00: It’s unclear if the disembodied voices here are actually on the record or idle chatter at the DFA office.
6:40: Sign guy returns to announce the next song, “Miss You,” accompanied by a subterranean bass synth sound.
7:10: This totally sounds like an outtake from Pieces of the People We Love…
7:40: …although the lyrics are a bit ropey: “You know I always loved sleeping/ Now I’m just weeping.” As far as break-up songs go, this is both incongruously jaunty and not particularly well-written. Hmmm.
8:30: Turn the volume up!
11:00: New track #3: “Blue Bird.” Insistent beat, distorted guitars and a frankly alarming falsetto.
11:30: The sax returns…
13:00: …as does sign guy, this time with a piece of paper asking, “You love us, right?” At this point, we’re undecided, to be honest: we’d say new album is batting .333 so far.
13:30: The repeated refrain, “I’ll see you on the other side,” will prove particularly topical for anyone who buys this on vinyl — it’s the end of Side A.
14:15: A sample of an accordion. Ye gods. Sign guy tells us that this song is called “Come Back to Me.” It starts with a line that sounds like, “I welcome you back into my feet.”
15:45: “Are we all children? Are we all children?”
17:15: Accordion sample stops. Doom-laden apocalyptic bass sound begins. This album is just getting weirder and weirder.
18:00: “I welcome you back into my hands/ My spirit/ Frustrated spirit.”
18:15: Doom-laden apocalyptic bass is joined by a trance-y keyboard melody.
18:50: And some maracas.
19:00: This song is fucking weird.
19:55: But after such a strange journey, the end of “Come Back to Me” is somewhat anti-climatic. It just… stops.
20:00: Right, the title track: “In the Grace of Your Love.”
20:40: This one sounds good. In what’s becoming a recurring theme, the lyrics are its weakest point — cod-philosophical aphorisms that take the form of various sentences based around the title phrase — but the music works well, with a loose beat forming a counter-point to the repetitive keyboard sample.
21:30: Another sign: “Hey Anderson and Ben, your dad will let you watch Toy Story 3 as soon as the album is done. Promise.” Right. Glad we’ve got that sorted out.
25:55: Side C. This song is called “Never Gonna Die Again,” and has a distinct old-school house flavor to it, at least until the live drums kick in.
26:50: “You’ve got me flying, flying in your love/ Your love is shining, shining from above.” Um.
27:20: Glossolalia chorus bit! By far the best part of this song so far.
27:30: Back to the “flying in your love” stuff. Not so good.
30:00: The next song starts with layered, gospel choir-like vocals — coupled with a lead guitar with a tone that sounds exactly like the intro to “Sweet Child o’ Mine.” Interesting.
30:05: Here comes sign guy again — this song’s called “Roller Coaster.”
30:10: Big drum build! The beat’s about to drop — reach for the lasers…
30:30: …um, hang on, what? There’s no beat drop after all — instead, the song takes a strange left turn into latter-day hippie balladry, with Jenner singing a flower-child melody based around the lyrics: “Roller coaster/ Roller coaster/ ‘Your life’s a roller coaster,’ she said / ‘And I want to get off.'”
31:30: The choir comes back, to lend gravitas to the lyric: “If you leave I’ll be dead/ You’re the only thing I get out of bed for these days.”
33:50: More big guitars and double-tracked vocals. This song — “Children” — at least flows from the last, making it the least abrupt song-to-song transition so far.
35:40: Someone reaches into the shot to retrieve a CD from the shelf behind the record player. We have to say, we’re kind of contemplating doing the same thing at this point.
37:25: Another comedy sign: “Hey David, soon! Your sandwich can wait.”
37:40: Side D. More club-friendly flavors — a driving synth loop and some Royksopp-y xylophone-y sounds. “Can you find a way to love yourself?” asks Jenner. “Maybe if you tried it/ You might even like it.”
38:40: Guitar stabs counterpoint the melody. This is the most quintessentially Rapture-y sounding track since Side A.
40:40: The Bruce Hornsby-esque piano of the one track we know already: first single “How Deep is Your Love?” First Bon Iver, now The Rapture. What’s going on here? Why is cheesy ’80s electric piano suddenly OK?
41:20: The identity of the Hornsby-in-residence is (partially) revealed: another sign proclaims, “Nice piano playing, Jonathan.”
43:00: This is the best song since the opener — and we’re not just saying that because we’ve heard it a few times already.
46:00: Looooooooong outro.
47:00: More musical weirdness — a buzzsawing guitar juxtaposed against a late night jazz-bar ivory-tinkling sample. It feels like the band have gone out of their way to cram as many musical ideas into this record as possible, which is perhaps not surprising since it’s been five years since their last one. But the eclectism often comes at the expense of coherence.
47:15: This song’s called “It Takes Time to Be a Man” — thank you, sign guy.
47:50: “There’s room at the mountain top/ For everyone in God’s plan/ So just trust in your brother/ Let me help you if I can/ Oh yeah.” Hmmm.
48:25: “There’s faith in the answer/ We all swear on this land [?]/ And the bells they are singing/ From the place that we stand/ Oh yeah.” What is going on here?
49:20: Here comes the choir again.
49:30: So, have The Rapture actually been secret evangelical Christians all along?
51:00: The choir is now singing “Hallelujah.” Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.
52:30: “Back in a minute,” says sign guy as the album comes to an end. Um. We’re going to get a drink. And then put on “House of Jealous Lovers.” Really. Fucking. Loud.