released June 8th, 2010

from the album - Party With Children

from all music

Formerly known as Cherry, New York's rock-meets-electronica duo Ratatat feature multi-instrumentalist/programmer Evan Mast and guitarist Mike Stroud. Mast is also the brains behind the pretty laptop pop of E*vax, and with his brother E*Rock he runs the indie electronic label Audio Dregs. Stroud also plays, in the studio and on tour, with artists including Ben Kweller and Dashboard Confessional. Between these duties (and Mast's job as a graphic designer), the duo found time to work on their collaboration. Mast worked beats and song ideas in his bedroom studio, which he gave to Stroud to develop while the guitarist was on the road. Though Mast and Stroud began working together in 2001, things began to really come together for the pair in 2003: in May, while they were still called Cherry, they played their first gig; by September they changed their name to Ratatat; and that November they issued their first single on Audio Dregs, which had a limited run of 1,100 copies. Dates with Franz Ferdinand, Interpol, and Battles followed, and Ratatat signed to XL Records. The duo's self-titled debut album arrived in spring 2004, coinciding with another round of dates with bands including !!!, Electrelane, and Tortoise. Classics appeared in 2006, followed by a self-released remix album. Ratatat then took a different approach to their third full-length effort, emphasizing live percussion and keyboards while toning down their familiar mix of programmed beats and guitars. Recorded in several short weeks, LP3 was released in July 2008, followed by LP4, released just shy of two years later in 2010.

album review

Anyone expecting much of a change on Ratatat’s fourth album will be disappointed. Steady as she goes for the duo of Mike Stroud and Evan Mast on LP4, which is good news for anyone who’s fallen in love with the sound of their previous work. Their trademark sound of chunky rhythms, soaring guitar harmonies, 8-bit textures, and sunny, catchy melodies remains fully intact, and the minor innovations of LP3 remain as well. Just as on that fine album, there are a few songs with a string section, a couple that slow the tempo, and an overall balanced mix of real instruments and electronics. The only real additions to the sound are the occasional talkbox sounds that provide comedic, yet funky, underpinnings on a couple of tracks. While in less sure hands this could have been played off as a joke, in Ratatat’s expert operation it comes off as a brilliant quirk. Indeed, every sound on the record is perfectly placed; the songs are constructed like a mosaic of glittering shards of glass and metal. Whether it’s the clicking drums that dart and lope like lions or that moment when the guitars slide from one chord to the next and it takes your breath away (to mention two examples), the duo’s mastery of sound and dynamics is almost magical. It’s impressive enough that Ratatat have come up with a sound that is instantly recognizable as their own; to be able to write songs as majestic as “Sunblocks,” as hooky as “Neckbrace,” and as late-night slinky as “Mandy” (which boasts some perfectly realized disco strings) almost doesn’t seem fair. It feels like they could keep making these records forever with no diminishing returns; the level of quality and imagination never drops an inch on LP4.

Track Listing

1 Bilar Mast, Stroud 4:13
2 Drugs Mast, Stroud 4:54
3 Neckbrace Mast, Stroud 4:05
4 We Can't Be Stopped Mast, Stroud 2:10
5 Bob Gandhi Mast, Stroud 4:00
6 Mandy Mast, Stroud 3:42
7 Mahalo Mast, Stroud 2:01
8 Party with Children Mast, Stroud 2:57
9 Sunblocks Mast, Stroud 3:41
10 Bare Feast Mast, Stroud 2:37
11 Grape Juice City Mast, Stroud 3:55
12 Alps Mast, Stroud 4:20