Sometimes being on a big label sucks. The Rapture is a group that can probably attest to that after this album has been held seemingly in limbo for the better part of half a year. The album has been out in Europe for over a year and on file sharing networks that entire time as well. As one of the groups who is supposed to be leading the whole dancepunk explosion, it comes as a big frustration to me that after all the hype and all the wait, Echoes is pretty much a letdown.
Sure, the group can rock out at moments, but the majority of the 11 tracks on this release just feel warmed-over. They feel like they've been reworked countless times to make them better (and they have), but instead of actually making the tracks better, the life and vitality was sucked out of them. Go no further than the opening track of "Olio," which at one time had a live drum backing track and more punch, now revamped with dated-sounding drum machine beats on factory setting sounds. Luke Jenner howls the best he can over it all, but the atonal vocals just don't find solid enough backing on the thin song.
From there, the album is wildly uneven, hitting huge in spots while dropping off to watered-down versions of tracks that Gang Of Four did better almost 20 years ago. "Heaven" picks things up with a juicy bassline and flailing drums while angular guitar bursts splinter off in all directions while "Open Up Your Heart" is almost 6 minutes of delayed pianos, plunky bass and warbling vocals that just beg you to skip to something else. "I Need You Love" gives a bit of a disco injection before the album hits stride during a 3-track middle section that scorches.
"The Coming Of Spring," "House Of Jealous Lovers" and "Echoes" finds the band throwing down their best tracks in a one-two-three punch. "The Coming Of Spring" is all tinny dry bass and frayed-out guitars that Jenner's howl fits nicely over while "House Of Jealous Lovers" (the track that _everyone_ has heard by now) drops a thick 4/4 beat with plenty of cowbell and handclaps alongside wicked guitars and a growling bassline for the high point of the album (and the previous 12" that it debuted on). When people start mentioning The Rapture at the top of the post-punk/dancepunk heap, it's because of that track.
After the blistering album-titled "Echoes," the disc again drops off, this time into the sub-par "Killing" (which sounds like it ripped a beat loop from a Daft Punk track). Interestingly enough, the group takes a completely different direction on the album closing track of "Infatuation," going the swirling guitars and heavy-reverb route, leaning more towards trippy Led Zeppelin material. Whether it's due to sitting on the shelf or simply something else, Echoes is uneven and seems rather anticlimactic after all the hype. There are a few gems on the disc, but like the whole 'dance punk' genre, it seems like there's a lot of hype and not substance. Perhaps !!! will prove me wrong with their full length, but until then, I'm going back and listening to Out Hud's Street Dad again.