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Aug 02

THE RAPTURE – “Olio”

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THE RAPTURE – “Olio”

A trick that’s sometimes served me well: you look for the similarities in things that you’re told are different and you look for the differences in things you’re told are the same. Or to put it another way – just because a band has good bassline and a skronky guitar doesn’t mean you have to mention the dour old Gang of Four. Douglas Wolk’s New York Scene article (linked below by Alex) was great on the one hand – I also want people to hear and dance to this fine new music – but a little defeatist, too, critical shoulders stooped under the weight of a twenty-year-old party he wasn’t even at!

So let’s look for the differences: one obvious thing to say about the new ‘post-punk’ – which Simon Reynolds almost says in this month’s UNCUT – is that there’s no ‘punk’ for it to be ‘post’. This lack of roots might be a disadvantage, it might not; it’s too soon to know. My hunch is it opens things up more – the best tracks from the new ‘scene’ might fit nicely into a 1981-themed disco but they don’t sound to me like they would have been made then. Like The Strokes, or Electroclash, the Rapture sounded not-quite-familiar when I first heard them (“House Of Jealous Lovers”, dropped into an electropop set at Glastonbury, no post-punk antiquities in sight). I could hear what they were doing but I was enjoying myself too much to put a name to it. Retro (Not Retro)!

“Olio” you might hear, and sigh and say “It sounds like the Cure”. Or, better, you might smile and say “It sounds like Robert Smith singing over a lost Trax Records groove”. And then you think – well, I’ve not heard Robert Smith sing Chicago House before, what’s it actually like? Well: it sounds lonely and uncomfortable. I feel slightly irritated, embarrassed by this wailing – and the music pulses quietly on behind, as if it’s trying to ignore the singing. There was a similar disconnect in “House Of Jealous Lovers”, an undercurrent of lost-in-the-disco panic as the groove bucked and surged under the singer – here, in a song with much less joy, it becomes explicit. Personally, I’d like the joy back again, but I’m prepared to wait the dread out.

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