The Rapture in Zurich - 6 November 2011

New York dance-punk outfit The Rapture are feeling gregarious. As they bid farewell to the crowd before finishing their Zurich show, singer Luke Jenner asks: "You wanna come to Italy with us? We have room for at least three more on our tourbus." A few enthusiastic fans raise their hands and whoop. Looks like the band have just expanded their entourage.

The Rapture’s breakout album Echoes was met with critical acclaim in 2003 and hailed as part of the post-punk wave coming out of the USA in the early noughties. Their sophomore effort Pieces Of The People We Love three years later was underappreciated, and there followed a period of changes within and outside the band that halted their creative output. Now they’re back with new album In The Grace Of Your Love, an altogether more melodious slice of funk-punk than their previous offerings.

Starting with the eponymous new title track, The Rapture’s live set is shot through with electronic bleeps, droning bass and the same funky grooves that marked James Murphy’s band LCD Soundsystem. The similarity isn’t surprising, given that The Rapture released two of their albums on James Murphy’s DFA label.

And therein lies the crux of the matter: those funk-punk rhythms, they can become very monotonous, very fast. Never Die Again, Get Myself Into It and The Devil repeat the same groove and chorus throughout their four-minutes-plus duration, punctuated by the honk of a saxophone and the clang of a cow-bell. Their best-known track House Of Jealous Lovers delivers more of the same, underscored by Jenner’s high-pitched yelp.

It’s not until Whoo! Alright-Yeah... Uh Huh half-way through the set that the momentum picks up. As soon as their songs incorporate a hint of a melody and some syncopation, the music becomes far more interesting. Their best moments are on the piano-driven How Deep Is Your Love and on Sail Away with its layers of synthesizers and glissando vocals. That these are both from the new album is testament to their development from shouty punk to a more differentiated sound that bodes well for their future releases.