The Rapture - Echoes (2003)
It was an easy song to overlook, coming as it did just after “House of Jealous Lovers” on the album, but man, this fucker is loud, and harsh. The one time I saw the band I ended up at the front of the stage, directly in the firing line of Luke Jenner’s amp, which was (and is?) a Roland Jazz Chorus set to Bright. It hurt the shit out of my ears all night. All that high end, and Jenner just going nuts on his guitar, scratching and screeching, just like he does here. The interesting thing about the Rapture’s legacy is that they didn’t do what we thought they would, which is make indie-dance a major thing. Instead, I think they solidified the 00s version of the 90s softLOUDsoft formula, which is to have half the music be really technically competent and the other half punking out in some way, whether it be with noise or looseness or inadeptness or whatever. The rhythm section is incredibly tight, and then Jenner provides the edge. The nice thing about this formula is that it could be varied in all sorts of ways. Grimes, for instance, gives us technically perfect singing over woozy, unsettling beats; the Fiery Furnaces did perfectly written songs fucked up and torn apart; Electric Six does modern rock with unsettled lyrics; and so forth. It was a way for indie to be indie without always being cheap, amateurish, and/or small-stakes. (And it was a needed corrective, coming after 2002’s avalanche of sonically perfect rock albums like Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and Sea Change, especially given how the UK was going nuts with new sounds.) Even better, it helped show how close pop was to the Amerindie consensus, with its wealth of perfect/weird combos (Missy, R. Kelly, Britney, etc.). So “Echoes” is a major milestone in that way: it set the model for how the weirdos and boundless creatives who’ve always been drawn to indie could set their distinctiveness off in a pleasing way.