Wednesday, October 04, 2006
"Oh, those sun-kissed French girls..."
The Rapture's first album missed me entirely. I danced whenever I heard "House of Jealous Lovers" but avoided the rest, assuming that it was rank hipster jive (post-apocalyptic white kids steal post-punk dance moves, yawn). Pieces of the People We Love, however, is a first-rate record, by far the best synthesis of 1981 sounds and post-Strokes attitudinal pop I've heard. "'The Devil" and "Get Myself Into It" conjure the gay-disco vibe with sturdier beats and tunes than I've heard the Scissor Sisters proffer; the former has an especially ominous swagger, like a shrieking cat-beast had figured out how to grope the rhythm of PiL's "Poptones" and lick ugly Mekons guitars. "First Gear" features the year's silliest refrain ("My-my-my-my-my-my-my Mustang Ford!") and the sexiest car-as-sex metaphor since R. Kelly's "Ignition." Luke Jenner's words may be confusing, but he's not confused; while he doesn't cop to after-party wisdom (the kind you know you'll forget as soon as the hangover ebbs) he keeps enough of his wits about him to recognize that one party's as good as another. Accepting the ephemerality of scenester fame positions him closer to the Prince side of the continuum than, say, former mentor James Murphy's: the cops are going to break things up soon, so let's not waste time on hamhanded irony (listen to LCD Soundsystem's "Losing My Edge" again).

It's almost impossible to parse Jenner's sexuality, which is probably how he wants it. What is admirable is the band's commitment to self-reliance, and not the kind infused by mere "positivity" either (except on the closer and sole dud "Live in Sunshine," a compendium of greeting-card maxims set to a raga melody evoking the Chemical Brothers circa 1999). Take "Down For So Long":
Then an analyst said, "Why fret finality?"
Cuz lookin' up ain't nothing lookin' down on me.
When, four albums after their debut, New Order released their own manifesto ("All The Way") it swung with a loose, earned ferocity. Their career trajectory suggests a model worthy of study: how to take drugs, record brilliant music, and maintain your savoir faire. As for The Rapture, their dreams may go up their noses by the next album but after careful examination of the evidence The Rapture are (a) aware of it; (b) will make all the guest lists anyway, even if they can afford the DFA and Danger Mouse just once.

(crossposted with A Grand Illusion)

Posted by Alfred Soto on Wednesday, October 04, 2006 at 8:09 PM |

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The FunkyFunky 7 Are:
A group of kids with WAY too much time on their hands.