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The Rapture: Echoes


The Rapture

Album: Echoes
Label: Strummer/Universal

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It's become common to write off the new New York underground-rock scene as prematurely discharged, doomed by its derivative origins to blaze brightly and burn out quickly. But while the parade of abstractly funky post-punk bands has gone from exciting to suspicious in less than two years, the cycle of rock revolutions is such that an intense back-to-basics period usually clears away the clutter and lets the music travel in new directions. The Rapture's much-anticipated Echoes doesn't represent a significant landmark along the way, but its pastiche-like approach to early-'80s Anglophilia is promising, and the album holds together as a piece about as well as any of its contemporaries. Opening with "Olio," a Cure-like track from The Rapture's 1999 debut Mirror, Echoes establishes a theme of repetition right away. With a few exceptions, the disc maintains a steady pattern of disco thump, guitar slash, and call-and-response choruses, expressing a faith in straight lines and inexorability. Echoes is strongest when the pattern breaks: in the slow drum roll and dissonant sax break of "Heaven," the Bowie-like drone-ballad "Open Up Your Heart," and the Television-derived art-boogie of "Love Is All." "I Need Your Love" and "House Of Jealous Lovers" transform a few words and a beat into ecstatic pop, but the aggressive danceability would be an empty pleasure without Echoes' softer textures and thoughtful interludes. Cobbling together the aforementioned influences plus Public Image Ltd., Gang Of Four, and the D.C. go-go scene, The Rapture and production team The DFA have built Echoes into a shifting, conceptual take on how the now sounds of two decades ago described a world of frenzied decadence and self-pity. Now, if The Rapture and its ilk can just figure out how to make sounds that describe this world, its revivalist ambitions will be as relevant as the band seemed last year.