It's been a tumultuous five years for the Rapture since the band's last release, but the New York dance punks have finally regained their faith. The group's new effort, "In the Grace of Your Love" (arriving Sept. 5), is an inspired set of dancefloor gems that finds the band reunited with its original label, DFA Records, and in an enlightened frame of mind.
"I think what took a long time for us to figure out is to know what you want to do and what you really need," drummer Vito Roccoforte says. "[For this album] we really got back into enjoying the process of making music."
The Rapture's journey is one familiar to many young bands that meet early success. The act was among the first wave of hip New York indie bands to generate considerable buzz on the Internet -- its DFA-produced 2003 effort, "Echoes," and particularly ubiquitous cowbell-laced lead single "House of Jealous Lovers," were lauded by critics and listeners alike, pushing the set to 111,000 copies sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and the top of many best-of lists (including album of the year by tastemaker site Pitchfork).
Then the band went major, landing at Universal for its follow-up, 2006's "Pieces of the People We Love." (An earlier release, Mirror, appeared on Gravity Records in 1999.) Not everyone involved with "Echoes" was pleased with the move to Universal. "We lost a great band and great friends in the process," DFA label manager Jonathan Galkin says. "It was the wrong place to go. We had a plan and that plan included them."
"Like any experience, it had its negatives and its positives," Roccoforte says of the move. "For us as a band, it probably wasn't the right thing in the end. It definitely wasn't where we are now."
Produced by Danger Mouse, Ewan Pearson and Paul Epworth, "Pieces of the People We Love" has sold 61,000 units, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and peaked at No. 1 on Billboard's Heatseekers chart, but failed to generate the same excitement as "Echoes." Then, while the band was touring the album, vocalist/guitarist Luke Jenner's mother died, and as time went on, tensions within the band heightened. Jenner departed in 2008, only to return a few months later. Continued differences eventually lead to the exit of bassist Mattie Safer in mid-2009. "In terms of band dynamics and creative spaces, it was really frustrating," Roccoforte says of that period.
Despite Safer's departure, Roccoforte, Jenner and multi-instrumentalist Gabriel Andruzzi pressed on, recording with Phoenix producer Philippe Zdar in Brooklyn and Paris throughout the middle of last year. "We came out the other side a lot better," Roccoforte says. "We had to, or we wouldn't be a band."
"In the Grace of Your Love" channels the group's recent experiences into a collection that finds the band sounding refreshed: Disco elements and subtler beats replace the Rapture's past house-music-leaning tendencies, while love remains a central theme throughout the set. "A dominant theme in art or music is the theme of the tortured artist," Roccoforte says. "We wanted to try and make a piece of music that came from somewhere a little more positive."
Last fall, the Rapture presented the finished album to DFA and the two parties reconciled. "It's totally different," Galkin says of the renewed relationship. "We have an amazing creative back-and-forth. We trust each other."
Galkin adds that the album release is significant for another reason -- Sept. 5 will also mark DFA's 10th anniversary, fitting as the Rapture's "House of Jealous Lovers" was the first single the label ever released. "We're grateful and also proud we are even still in business to help make this happen," Galkin says. "So it's all full circle."