ratatat lp4
  • MONDAY, JUNE 21, 2010

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Brooklyn electronic rock duo Ratatat's LP4 is a follow up to their previous album thematically (being a part of the same sessions), but don't expect it to be more of the same. The sound is still their signature--electro-pop with a melodic dose of trip-hop--with some different additions. Think global percussion instruments, Japanese strings, ukuleles and some other fun things. LP4 is a whimsical roller coaster ride filled with all the twists and turns that you'd expect and the ones that blindside you.

"Bilar", the opener is a perfect example. After a few moments of rising noise, the beat kicks in. And it's a heavy, clattering noise offset by what sounds like quarters being spewed out by a machine in the background. The track then mellows out seamlessly when pitch-perfect strings crescendo like a phoenix rising from the ashes. The segue into "Drugs" is a spoken passage in German from Werner Herzog's Stroszek. The track slowly gets going with a mawkish clamoring of strings and piano. Evan Mast breaks in with his synth disrupting the calm, but only to be overshadowed later by Mike Stroud's dizzying guitar bursts. "Neckbrace" begins with a woman saying, "They were just getting ready to knock me out with a baseball bat," foreshadowing the boxing match that is about to happen. It's a match between house music and heavy orchestration that leaves the winner undetermined. By that I mean the track really fails to ground itself and find its center, but maybe that chaos is a good thing.

"Bob Gandhi" showcases Ratatat's innate ability to juxtapose man-made and organic instrumentation. The dance track is laden with bongos and acoustic guitar mixed with synths and programmed beats. The somewhat lazy tempo combined with plucks of ukulele on "Mahalo" evokes images of a Hawaiian vacation, albeit a brief one. (Sidenote: "Mahalo" was originally a b-side to "Shiller" off LP3, further suggesting that LP4 is indeed a continuation of that album.) The first single, "Party With Children," begins with a swelling percussion beat and adds on synth and guitar gradually. It sounds like the track will be a typical Afro-beat, but Ratatat takes it in a completely different direction. The guitar line makes the song sound like a child's lullaby that's been immersed in a video arcade. The synth adds to the soothing feel with quieted swells that flourish throughout.

While LP4 is mostly scraps, born out of the same sessions as LP3, it's somehow stylistically more consistent. Ratatat have managed to insert some new and interesting textures and timbres without straying too far from their signature sound. While some may say that a lot of the tracks finish before they really reach their full potential, it's fun to listen to Ratatat play with the proverbial clay in the studio. -hanna kasper

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