The hype machine is an amazing device. It rather frightens me. I imagine that said mechanism has a similar function to the “doomsday device” in Dr. Strangelove, in that as soon as someone drops the bomb, the whole world is bombarded with critical radiation. We’ve seen it with The Strokes. We’ve seen it with The White Stripes. And we saw it with The Yeah Yeah Yeahs as well. The newest bomb to be dropped is The Rapture, and quite frankly, I don’t want to be caught in the fallout.
So I decided to take it upon myself to test all these bands on Google. When pairing “white stripes” with “overrated” in the dubious, yet endlessly fun search engine, I received 6,320 hits. The Strokes beat the Stripes by 40. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs were considerably less overrated, yielding 2,550 hits. The Rapture, however, only received 2,270 hits when paired with overrated. And I think most of those had something to do with the Four Horsemen and the Coming of the Lord.
Content with my results, I gave The Rapture’s new album, Echoes, a fair chance. And boy, am I glad. What I had heard of their previous release, Out of the Races and On to the Tracks, was little more than poorly executed Gang of Four theft. But on Echoes, the New York (yawn) by-way-of La Mesa (my former home) foursome churns out some bootylicious disco funk.
The Rapture’s best-known single “House of Jealous Lovers” gets the dance remix treatment, transforming a once-obnoxious song into a full-throttle club banger. Another previously released track, “Olio,” is turned completely inside out, morphing from a guitar driven, Joy Division-esque track to a house anthem fit for a Mitsubishi commercial.
But these guys haven’t completely abandoned their skronky roots. “Heaven,” which could very well be the best song on the album, is all pounding bass, Andy Gill-worthy riffage and Luke Jenner’s almost Robert Smith-like wail.
A few tracks move even further away from their post-punk roots and out of dance territory. “Open Up Your Heart” sounds like a re-working of David Bowie’s “Five Years.” “Love is All” has a little more Keith Richards in it than most of the album, but Luke Jenner, of course, still sounds more like Bobby Smith than Mick Jagger.
Looking back on my Google search, my test was about as fair and balanced as Bernard Goldberg’s account of the “liberal media,” but I think I proved my point. The Rapture are more than just a vehicle for nauseating critical hype. They have the grooves to prove it, and if you’re still not convinced, put on “Sister Saviour.” Your rhythmless white ass will be shaking in no time.
Liars – They Threw Us in a Trench and Stuck a Monument On Top
The Cure – Japanese Whispers
Radio 4 – Gotham
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.