Prior to Echoes, all that most music fans really knew about the Rapture was that they were a band adored by music snobs and the fashion set, and it was pretty much impossible to find records by them that didn't sound like they'd been recorded in a biscuit-tin. But silence, doubters: with Echoes, these tousle-haired Brooklynites have made one of the defining records of 2003. Drawing on everything from British post-punk, early Chicago house and the shrill post-grunge sound of the mid-1990s Seattle underground, Echoes can loosely be divided into three parts: the scalpel-sharp guitar work-outs ("Heaven", "Echoes"), the booty-shaking, room-quaking dancefloor fillers ("House of Jealous Lovers", "Sister Saviour") and the bare, "Perfect Day"-style torch-songs ("Open Up Your Heart", "Love Is All"). Mind you, that's not to say Echoes lacks moments of individual majesty, as the frazzled tears-on-the-dancefloor acid shimmer of "Olio" proudly attests.
Frontman Luke Jenner's cut-glass caterwaul--pitched somewhere maddeningly between the Cure's Robert Smith and Nirvana's Kurt Cobain--is on the perpetual drift between sadness, anger and euphoria. Yet the whole of Echoes flows like a dream, segueing from track to track like the best mix-tape you never owned. Believe it: not only have the Rapture rehabilitated the humble cowbell, they've crafted one of the most inventive and successful dance-rock crossovers since Primal Scream's Screamadelica. --Louis Pattison