NEW YORK DUO MAKE EXPERIMENTAL ELECTRO POP THAT WORKS SHOCK
Rating: 8 / 10
Craig Fitzpatrick, 15 Jun 2010
The New York duo's fourth studio album doesn’t have the most original title in the world. Luckily for us, then, they’ve saved all their creative juices for the music. Stemming from the same Catskill Mountains sessions as LP3, this time around Ratatat have quite literally added strings to their musical bow. Orchestral sweeps and a plethora of clicks and beeps make for an altogether more experimental album.
At the same time, 4 retains the essential Ratatat blueprint, their devotion to nagging hooks and beats-to-make-you-move. First single ‘Party With Children’ is a perfect example of their pop nous, Mike Stroud’s winding guitar carrying a peach of a melody line over a tribal rhythm.
It’s an eclectic collection: the ghost of trip-hop is revived on cracking opener ‘Bilar’, Asian influences are to be found on ‘Bare Feet’, whilst album standout ‘Drugs’ is a song Daft Punk would sell their robot suits for.
Moody atmospherics sit alongside frenetic electro-rock, twinkling pianos meet bubbling basslines. The album’s soft and breezy centrepieces ‘Mandy’ and ‘Mahalo’ are particularly lovely. Indeed, there’s not a weak link in the chain. Despite the disparate influences and textures, the album has a smooth and natural flow, achieved through seamless song shifts and the occasional spoken word sample.
While Ratatat have been exploring new sounds, they’ve also taken up the challenge of producing an album made to be listened to from start to finish. They’ve pulled it off with aplomb. So listen.