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The Rapture takes dance-rock higher

Wednesday, Nov 8 2006
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When the Rapture completed two years' worth of touring in support of 2003's Echoes, "burnt out" was the phrase that most accurately reflected the four members' collective mental state. "We were really tired," says drummer Vito Roccoforte, on the phone from his Brooklyn home. Still, rest wasn't the only item on the outfit's agenda: Roccoforte and his bandmates had developed a healthy appetite for new music. So at the beginning of 2005, he, singer-guitarist Luke Jenner, bassist-singer Mattie Safer, and saxman Gabe Andruzzi set up shop in a friend's Lower East Side studio and began writing the album's follow-up.

"Right away we had a really big argument that lasted for two days," Roccoforte laughs, "about a bunch of shit that had built up over the tour. [It wasn't] specific musical things, but more people's roles in the band, what everybody wanted to do. We just had to air it out and talk about what everybody was feeling."

That kind of group therapy isn't what you'd expect from a chilly New York dance-rock act. But then, the Rapture upended lots of expectations on Echoes, which introduced a deeper band than the one in evidence on "House of Jealous Lovers," its seminal 2002 single. Roccoforte says that the eclectic Echoes — which alternated funk-punk rave-ups with lovely bits of Beatles-esque pop — sounds like a mixtape to his ears, which is a large part of its charm. For their new album, the band members wanted to expand the scope of their music while making it cohere more tightly. And that required the Metallica-in-Some Kind of Monster approach.

"We had to kind of open these lines of communication that had been cut off for a long time, basically from touring a lot," Roccoforte says.

The result of that open-minded approach, Pieces of the People We Love, bears out that cooperative spirit. It's a brighter, friendlier record than the brooding Echoes, full of groovy good-vibes disco-rock that rarely opts for noise over melody. The opener, "Don Gon Do It," has gorgeous, tight-harmony vocals; the title track sports the same shuffle-glam beat as Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll Part Two"; the lead single, "Get Myself Into It," rides a sax riff seemingly lifted from some forgotten C+C Music Factory track; and "The Devil" features Jenner working his considerable falsetto and doing breathy porn-starlet "oohs" and "aahs." "Whoo! Alright-Yeah ... Uh Huh," the album's excellently titled centerpiece, is pure Rapture 2.0, a super-catchy cowbell clanger (with female-chorus backing vocals) in which Safer laments the sorry fact that "People don't dance no more/ They just stand there like this/ They cross their arms and stare you down and drink and moan and diss."

"'The Devil' probably never would've gotten written two years ago," Roccoforte admits. "In the past, I would've jumped all over it immediately and shut it down. But this time around I really made an effort to be like, 'OK, I'm gonna shut up and just listen.'"

Roccoforte's quick to share credit for People's stylistic shine-up with the disc's producers: Ewan Pearson, Paul Epworth, and Danger Mouse. (Roccoforte dismisses blog-fueled rumors of a falling-out with the DFA, the New York duo that helmed Echoes. "We were curious and excited to try working with somebody else," he says. "Plus, James [Murphy, of the DFA] was busy with LCD Soundsystem.")

But the drummer admits that the Rapture's growth came from within. "We wrote, like, 30 full songs," he says. "Later we spent a lot of time sequencing ... I've always been a fan of something you listen to and then wanna listen to again, you know? That's what we went for with this."

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Mikael Wood

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