Electronic Music 'Classics' from Ratatat

Music critic John Brady offers a review of the new CD by the electronic band Ratatat.

Copyright © 2006 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

Brooklyn-based musicians Mike Stroud and Evan Mast record under the name Ratatat, and they've just released their second album - Classics.

(Soundbite of song, Montanita)

BRAND: Music critic John Brady has this review.

(Soundbite of song, Montanita)

JOHN BRADY reporting:

That's Montanita, the first cut from Classics - the well-timed release from Brooklyn-based Ratatat. It's late August, and our seasonal slide into fall is picking up speed. Thankfully, Mike Stroud and Evan Mast of Ratatat have come up with an intriguing, late-summer soundtrack perfect for those last-remaining days of lounging by the pool.

(Soundbite of song, Montanita)

BRADY: Stroud and Mast are proficient guitar noodlers. They draw on a diverse array of hooks and riffs. On one song, they'll swoop in with a high-pitched guitar squall that would make any heavy-metal God proud. Or they will indulge in the pleasures of Beatle-esque pop, as in this song, Tropicana.

(Soundbite of song, Tropicana)

BRADY: Stroud and Mast are also proficient mixers: keyboards, guitars, funky beats, samples, random animal noises. All are ingredients in their complicated musical alchemy.

(Soundbite of song, Lex)

BRADY: In fact, sometimes the songs get too complicated and start to sound a bit precious.

(Soundbite of song, Lex)

BRADY: Sometimes, too, Stroud and Mast let their affinity for the guitar get the best of them. Here's the overblown song, Lex.

(Soundbite of song, Lex)

BRADY: In these cases, the squawky and aggressive machismo of the guitars harshes the mellow of the groove created by the keyboards and the beats. Fortunately, Stroud and Mast usually combine their sonic ingredients in just the right proportions. Here's the irresistible Loud Pipes.

(Soundbite of song, Loud Pipes)

BRADY: What I like about this song and others on Classics is the way Stroud and Mast bring contrasting elements together. They create hypnotic lines with their keyboards and their beats and then pair them with driving guitar riffs.

(Soundbite of music)

BRADY: The result is pleasurable musical paradoxes, songs that are energetically serene or that pulse with dreamy assertiveness.

(Soundbite of music)

BRADY: Late summer is a season of contrasts, too. Humid days give way to nights with that first fall chill. The leisure of the last lazy summer days mixes with premonitions of approaching work and school. To better enjoy this seasonal transition, I suggest savoring the musical contrasts of Ratatat.

(Soundbite of music)

BRAND: John Brady is a music critic based in Santa Monica. Ratatat's new CD is called Classics.

(Soundbite of music)

BRAND: DAY TO DAY is a production of NPR News with contributions from Slate.com. I'm Madeleine Brand.

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  • Album: Classics
  • Artist: Ratatat
  • Label: XL Recordings
  • Released: 2006
 

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