I can’t help but think that the title section, next to the album’s artwork above, would be practically indecipherable to people that just stumble upon this site. They would surely get the year marker, but the rest would just be nonsense. First, there’s the name of our favorite onomatopoeic band. Those on the outside wouldn’t be privy to the fact that New York duo Ratatat, aka Evan Mast and Mike Stroud, have been making an electronic / indie rock, guitar / keyboard hybrid for the last six years. They also wouldn’t know that the next line, the title of the album, signifies that this is their fourth full-length effort. The last, of course, is their label, one that houses plenty of other like-minded experimental musicians, yet might lead outsiders to think this has something to do with clothing sizes.
But, it’s not like that’s some sort of secret code for the uninitiated up there. What I mean is, we print them as they are. Having a degree in symbology and bad hair is simply not necessary. For the music of Ratatat, one just needs an open ear, a sense of whimsy, and maybe an inclination to do the ‘robot.’ LP4, if not hot then lukewarm on the heels of LP3, consists mostly of material recorded during that previous album’s sessions, and continues the progressive electronic indie nerdfest they’ve been cultivating for years.
I’m sure there are some that may argue that if you’ve heard one Ratatat song, you’ve heard them all, and this is one of those bands with which I might not put up that big of an argument against such a statement. I love Ratatat, but I get the other point of view. Granted, I hear a lot of subtle differences from album to album, but they’re easily overheard in cursory listens. The opener of LP4, for instance, is like a big mashup of Ennio Morricone, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, Can and Kraftwerk. It’s an amazing conglomeration that few could pull off this well. The string sections in “Drugs” stand out as a big change from the first two albums, but the song goes so quickly into that celebratory space, occupied by Daft Punk and Röyksopp, that it too could be passed by without a notice. “Neckbrace” adds the new element of what sounds like the scat that accompanies a rousing bit of hambone.
Ratatat marry the bedroom indie rocker with the club anthem, and that’s no easy feat. Even though there’s a measure of uniformity and familiarity from one album to the next, I’m amazed each time I take a step back and fully grasp what’s going on. Evan and Mike aren’t afraid to throw any one thing into the blender of their music and find out what happens as a result. From classical to disco to classic rock, Ratatat find a use for all of it, melding it into their danceable sonic sculptures. I often wonder how a post-apocalyptic population would view music from this era. I imagine that they would look on Ratatat the way we look at Mozart.
Terrance Terich firmly believes that 1985 is the best year for music. He lives near Seattle with his books, movies, and music.