In the Grace of Your Love (DFA/Modular)
It's been a whopping five years since New York City dance revivalists the Rapture tickled the eardrums of trendy postgrads in girls' jeans. In indie-rock years, five years is more like 30, and in 2011, the whole "kinda punk-ish, kinda danceable" thing is old news. Which isn't to say the Rapture should have pulled an about-face on their comeback third album. Following trends is just as stupid as accidentally creating them, and it's nice to hear—with the sugar-rush synth blasts and disco beats of opener "Sail Away"—that the Rapture aren't stretching their legs just for the sake of impressing anybody.
Balancing the sublime and the strange, "Sail Away" is a perfect encapsulation of what they do well. Unfortunately, the rest of In the Grace is only intermittently great. For every moment of splendor, like the quirky, thumping rocker "Roller Coaster," there are two spots of dead weight. The squeaky, slight "Miss You" sounds like Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" sucked dry of its dark (and far more interesting) undercurrent.
All 11 tracks thrive or suffer based on the quality of Luke Jenner's shaky voice. When he's on (the goofy falsetto on hard-charging "Blue Bird," the lazy disco harmonies on the pulsing "Never Die Again"), the songs are equally infectious. When he's off (the out-of-tune wheeze on the otherwise hypnotic "Come Back to Me," the awkward cracks on "Miss You"), the songs are generally just as forgettable, or sometimes even painful to listen to.
There are too many highlights here to ignore, and it's nice to have these guys back. But In the Grace of Your Love sounds more like a sophomore slump than a triumphant return to form.