Ratatat Ratatat

[XL; 2004]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: hard-groovin’ instrumental fare
Others: Mum, M83, Savath + Savalas, Four Tet

This album is good. I think. I haven't actually listened to the whole thing yet. See, every time I try and sit down and listen to it, something comes up. Everything from old friends calling me up and wanting to get lunch to a giant storm knocking out my power for a few days. So I'm going to start playing it right now, and hopefully the forces that be will notice that I'm writing about it and leave me alone for the next 45 minutes.

The one good thing that's come out of these constant interruptions is that I've had the chance to listen to the first half of this album at least ten times. So with a fair amount of certainty, I can safely say that this album gets tired after that many listens in a short period of time. But then again, I don't think I've heard any album that I can listen to ten times in three weeks and not get sick of. So I'm not going to hold that against Ratatat.

After all of those listens, I've also been able to get past the deceptive opener. "Seventeen Years" kicks things off with a fast-paced, house-rockin' dance party. But things immediately slow down on the second song and stay subdued throughout most of the album. Once I realized that the rest of the songs weren't going to be as blazing as "Seventeen Years," I was able to enjoy it much more.

In fact, not only is the rest of the album as upbeat as the opener, but it's almost on the melancholy side of things. Evan Mast creates dense atmospheres with his synthesizers (among other things) that almost give off a faint sense of foreboding. But while Mast is creating a murky layer of near-sorrow, Mike Stroud wields his guitar to create a faint glimmer of hope among its gloomy surroundings. His thick leads intertwine with Mast's synths to create a syrupy, gelatinous sound. A sound that is both familiar and new at the same time; you've heard most of the tricks on here before, but not really put together like this. Stroud and Mast are definitely in their own lo-fi corner of the universe, even if that corner looks familiar.

And with that I have finally made it through Ratatat's debut offering. And not a moment to soon, as it is now thundering like mad out and multiple tornado warnings have just been issued for my area. At least it waited until I was done this time.

1. Seventeen Years
2. El Pico
3. Crips
4. Desert Eagle
5. Everest
6. Bustelo
7. Breaking Away
8. Lapland
9. Germany to Germany
10. Spanish Armada
11. Cherry