When I think of Ratatat I can’t help but think of “Eleanor Rigby.” Yes, the Beatles song. I named my first car Eleanor Rigby. She was a rusty Chevy coup that I bought for 2 grand. As was the norm, I made mix CD’s for Eleanor & I to cruise to. Ratatat’s, “Seventeen Years” and “Germany to Germany” off of their self-titled album were frequent fliers on those CD’s. Regardless of sense, every new Ratatat release will have this strange tie to The Beatles for (probably) only me. It’s one of the beautiful, strange musical connections that memories tend to make. I enjoy nostalgia waxed memories of strange sorts of trouble I got into with that car, but while listening to “Magnifique,” I’m reflecting on something else: change. I drive a pseudo soccer mom car now, and have a car payment. But you can bet I’m still going to throw Ratatat into the CD player and jam until it feels like the damn thing’s going to fall apart.
I can imagine that Mike Stroud and Evan Mast, the genies behind Ratatat, have reflected heavily on the change this album symbolizes. Only, surely, in a much different light. This is their 5th LP together over an awesome and productive 14 years of making electronic music. With this album comes a fresh, yet cyclical sound. They don’t experiment with the Middle Eastern instrumentation akin to the tracks of LP4, and for the most part, they stay away from the acoustic atmospheres of LP3. But they do return to the roots of their sound, which lies in the beats and structure of their first two LP’s, “Classics” and “Ratatat”, while subtly pulling from the experimentation of LP3 and LP4 to create a pinnacle sound. The beloved snyth slides of those first two albums are rebirthed by the strings of a pedal steel guitar. But worry not, Snyth lovers, synthesized sounds till abound in “Magnifique”.
Music creates moods, and I love the calm yet energetic movement that this album creates. At no point does it drag, and when Stroud and Mast decide to explore the fuzzier side of emotions, for example the chaos of a forgotten night out in “NightClub Amnesia”, they still create music that sounds so happy. This album, and for that matter all of Ratatat’s music, is simply happy. It’s uplifting, moving, thoughtful, and conscious of the way that downbeats and melodies exist inside the mind and the memories.
Stroud and Mast have changed over the years, as humans tend to do. So has their sound. But they have the intuition to know when something is good. And when it’s Ratatat’s self titled album good, oh buddy is it good. So, embrace change but remember the good things that got you there. Listen to Ratatat’s “Magnifique” while you call your ma and get nostalgic. You won’t regret it.
Recommended If You Like: Anything Ratatat has ever done (particularly their first 2 albums,), Shy Child, LCD Soundsystem, playing atari in your boxers, Ghostland Observatory
Recommended Tracks: 6 (Drift), 2 (Cream On Chrome), 7 (Pricks Of Brightness), 3 (Magnifique), 11 (Rome)