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Ratatat | LP4

XL (2010)
By CARRIE BATTAN  |  June 4, 2010
2.5 2.5 Stars


Having exhausted a structured hybridization of cinematic electronic flourishes, moody organ backdrops, hip-hop undertones, and rock riffs on their first two full-lengths, Ratatat took the leftovers of the LP3 recording sessions, added some outlandish effects, and mixed the tracks to death. The result is LP4, which sounds a whole lot like the Ratatat of yesteryear, but with global embellishments, non-sequitur vocal interludes, and sprawling hooks. A good deal of the album (particularly the first half) uses the new-fangled instrumentation sporadically, as an afterthought to a slightly darker version of the duo’s time-honored techniques. This is where LP4, though flawlessly produced, is messy. “Neckbrace,” for example, opens with a woman saying, “They were just getting ready to knock me out with a baseball bat,” then segues into unidentifiable housebeat boxing, heavy orchestration, and hints of tropicália before introducing any semblance of a hook. But later on, when the duo embrace the experimental instrumentation with gusto, there’s a handful of gems. “Bare Feast,” the disc’s best cut, centers on a lush, endlessly listenable bhangra beat. “Grape Juice City” follows, layering bassy jungle drums under cascading synths and chirps and making for an exotic but impeccably mixed full sound. For these bittersweet few minutes, Ratatat prove they can, and should, dive headfirst into the strange instead of tiptoeing around it.

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