Ratatat - LP4

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An entertaining and imaginative romp through misty atmospherics and score-like melodrama, LP4 by Ratatat beautifully creates a consistent voice through well-pitched guitar riffs and piano melodies.

The creative duo of Mike Stroud and Evan Mast are joined in their production by a string section who all combine well, creating a very settled sound. Very much a continuation of where they were heading with their earlier release LP3, this is a fun album, off-key enough to surprise, but with such strong and consistent quality that pretty much every track draws you in and pleases.

Sunblocks is a case in point: a summery, happy tune, the keyboard tones and guitar having a patter of conversation, the string section swooping in to have a natter before disappearing off to lunch with the drums. It’s happy music with a surprising intelligence. The instruments provide the voices as there are no vocals to speak of throughout. The odd snatch of dialogue in different languages is the exception. There’s thankfully no story trying to be told here, but an exotic sound creeps in as the album progresses from the African drum beats to whoops and hollers of a tribal ilk.

Grape Juice City goes jazz funk scat-tastic with a voice as instrument (in a clever switch around there, you see?) and the album finishes with Alps; a surprisingly sad, almost lachrymose shuffle that’s easy on the ear but pulls a curtain down on what preceded it like the end of a holiday, that last day by the pool, the last ray of sun on your face.

Other standout tracks include the heavy throbbing Bob Ghandi, with its unnerving but enthralling mash-up of styles. Throughout, you’re never allowed to get bored thanks to the sheer variety – but it fits together so intelligently that’s it’s not variety for its own sake. It feels like you’re listening to, and experiencing, Ratatat’s own musical inspiration.

Start to finish, this is a quality release, well thought-out, well-produced and fun, enjoyable listening. I should imagine it’s not to everyone’s taste in as much as it’s leaning towards the experimental, but this comes highly recommended.

LP4 is released on June 4 through XL/Remote Control.

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