Ratatat - LP3
I've got writer's block. Fuck. I don't feel like being clever. I guess I'll just come clean.
Although I've heard and read the name Ratatat hundreds of times, I've never taken the time to listen to them. When I read or hear about bands with fun, kitschy names like "Ratatat," I always imagine the writer being some hipster with tight jeans and two-toned hair telling me to listen to the next dance band. I listened one time and ended up at a Moving Units show. I felt like I was at an 8th grade dance where someone spiked the punch with rum and laced the air with cocaine. Not my scene – when it's with 8th-graders. And, to be quite honest, I don't really know why I think this way. I don't like to think this way. It makes me feel like a bastard. But, that's the image those names conjure and I really can't help that. It's a psychological prototype that I developed over time and it's natural, without any malicious intent. However, in an attempt to combat the anxious feeling of bastardry, I can always spin the record and squash any judgmental pre-conceptions I develop. It's a good thing I did with Ratatat's LP3 because it's one of the better records to come out so far this year.
LP3 sees Ratatat emerging from the dry soil of indie-electro-rock, blossoming into a colorful arrangement of classic rock, Middle Eastern melodies, electro-pop, and an array of experimental and glitch samples. What is striking about LP3 is that is seems to effortlessly fuse these three genres, which seem to have no place within each other. The key to Ratatat's successful fusion is not their experimental or dance inclinations, but their impeccable ear for basic rhythm and melody. In opener "Shiller," which sounds as if Aphex Twin was paired with Rush to soundtrack Castlevania for Nintendo, the long intro builds with experimental samples swooping in. However, it is built upon a simple, swaying melody, one that could be used to soundtrack Dark Shadows. It is a basic melody – at its core, a pop song. Then a manipulated classic rock guitar riff slides in, disrupting the mood of the song, but still maintains the rhythmic and melodic core that introduced the song. It sets the tone for the entire record.
"Falcon Jab" was inspired by Daft Punk, a group that has mastered the simple synthetic sound that is so appealing and, of course influential. "Mi Viejo" is based on a Middle-Eastern (or Spanish, but I disagree) guitar melody and is hustled by quick percussion and an atmospheric old Western guitar melody. It is a blend of very different genres, but is tied together by the simplicity of the melody and rhythm.
Experimental blends, glitch beats, and pop rhythms are a common thread throughout the album, but don't get this repetition confused with monotony. As each track passes, a seemingly new band emerges keeping it all fresh; but, this common thread weaves it all together giving it a distinguishable sound that I now realize can only come from Ratatat.
One anomaly that I should mention is the final track, "The Black Heroes," which sounds like a combination between Architecture in Helsinki and Belle and Sebastian. It is a lovely sunshine pop song with stunning strings layered on top. Although it is quite different from the rest of the album, it is still a beautiful song and a delightful way to end the album.
- Caleb Morairty