Top 100 Artists of the Decade: #46 Ratatat
The Top 100 Artists of the Decade list will be posted over the course of 100 days. On September 23rd, we will post one artist and continue every day until December 31st, when we will unveil our #1 artist of the decade!
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I present a simple equation: Ratatat = jams.
Ratatat is not particularly innovative, but then it doesn't really matter. They're here to be rockstars and they've done it consistently, without too many missteps along the way. Their self-titled debut featured a couple bangers – "Seventeen Years" was everywhere by indie music's standards (once, while driving, I heard it blasting from two nearby cars at the same time) – but the album also had enough texture and variation, from soft-humming "Cherry" to skittish "Lapland," to suggest that Ratatat might be primed for a long run in the limelight. Follow-up Classics made good on their promise, playing more heavily into the dance elements that sparked their always-wild live shows. And recently released LP3 went texturized – calling on a full studio of ancient-sounding instruments, for the first time in their recording history. It was proof their music could get more intelligent and surprising without sacrificing the grandeur that carries their sound.
Some say that Ratatat is a little one-track, which always baffles me. They aren't stylistically narrow – it's just that they're equally adept across the whole musical spectrum, and the ease behind their output is a little deceptive. Yeah, so Ratatat = jams, but they always build to a peak in different ways. "Seventeen Years" lays it all out up front; "Mirando" uses thin and spidery layers to create a web of bursting noise; "Wildcat" features growls and sine waves spiraling between each other until it all bursts in a surging shuffle-step climax. Like rockstars, they always get loud; the sheer number of paths they've taken to get there is what is continually impressive. Toss on their two remix albums – which contextualize popular rap songs into something more gratifying – and you've got a cross-genre sensation with swagger that will last for years to come.
Check back tomorrow for the next artist! To see the full list of the Top 100 Artists of the Decade, click here.