The Rapture – “Mirror” (1999)

The Rapture are among the groups that brought the lo-fi and garage sound to the mainstream at the turn of the millennium.  Stylistically I’ve seen this referred to as “post-punk revival” and “garage revival,” though I think that sells them a bit short.  After all, garage never really goes away – there are always bands playing that style somewhere; it’s just a matter of whether or not that aesthetic happens to be popular at the time, with garage often serving as an “anti” to whatever musical trend is currently dominant.  It’s roots; it’s back-to-basics; it’s a big middle finger to the world.

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The Rapture’s 1999 album Mirror doesn’t seem to fit into these revivalists packages, at least not to my ears.  Yes, they bring a lo-fi, unpolished feel to their music, and yes it has certain general rock characteristics, but there’s a lot more happening here.  “Mirror” has a post-punk / noise / no wave quality to it, along with some very 1960s psych organs and an almost Dead Kennedys-esque vocal style, while the dark “AlieNation” puts a sparse keyboard on top of a slow reggae-ish riddim and tops it of with Ian Curtis-like vocals, so this pair certainly fits the original post-punk mode to some extent.  But those are followed by the piano instrumental of “Dusk at Maureen’s” and the straight-up dance beats that drive “In Love with the Underground,” a track that veers off into sort of IDM territory.

Mirror is stylistically a bit all over the place, with the general lo-fi-ness loosely holding it all together.  All in all I think they pulled it off, giving us a thoughtful album that certainly captured my attention enough to add them to my mental rolodex so I can keep my eyes open for other releases by the band.