Earlier this week before leaving on my cross country trip to the East Coast, I obtained a few albums I had been waiting to hear for quite a long time. One of the albums I was especially excited to hear was Ratatat’s brand new album LP4. I’ve been a huge Ratatat fan since I first saw the duo at Neumos in 2006 and have enjoyed just about everything they’ve released. I loved Ratatat, enjoyed Classics even more and appreciated LP3 even though it didn’t contain nearly as many creative, head-nodding tracks as the other two albums. So why would I waste my time by writing a review of an album by a group that I unequivocally love?
This review had to be written because of my profound disappointment in the duo’s recent effort. After listening to LP4 in entirety, not one song stuck out. Now I’m not claiming that any of these songs are awful, but it appears that the duo has lost their creative edge.
I should have seen it coming as the combination of electric guitar + synthesizer has some inherent limitations, but I held out hope that the LP4 would be as genius as the other three albums. Classics had a far more refined sound than Ratatat. LP3 introduced more sound effects and a more dub-y aspect to their music. The group had progressed with every album and release since their modest beginnings at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY. Their beats were versatile: easily rapped upon and able to stand by themselves as upbeat party music, or heard as slowed down, inventive electronic music.
That progress came to a halt on LP4. Maybe it sounds stale because much of the album was recorded in the same session as the previous album. Maybe it’s because they reached a creative barrier in their specific genre. I believe it’s because the duo got lazy. The album’s first single, “Party With Children,” sounds like most of the average tracks on LP3. From there, the album gets more repetitive. It sounds like a mishmash of outtakes from previous albums instead of a cohesive, innovative Ratatat album.
And so my love affair with the group has ended. I’ll still listen to their future works and possibly even buy them, but the group will never stoke my excitement as before. For the uninformed, I’ve included a link to Ratatat in their prime (yeah, I know, it’s everyone’s favorite Ratatat song, but it’s the best representation of their artistic genius):