This is what happens when you put Mike Stroud and Evan Mast in a derelict, inspiring old house in New York - crammed full of extraordinary keyboard instruments Ratatat could only have previously dreamed of. If ever the words "progression" and "maturity" were made to describe music, they'd be mentioned next to every description of 'LP3' and if ever experimentation was pulled off instead of coming across as false and reckless, 'LP3' is the primary example.
The striking thing about 'LP3''s songs is that they're all made for adverts or opening sequences of films. Audi, Orange Universal, you name it, will all be dialling Ratatat's "important people" at XL when their ears first stumble across this record. But this classification of calling the songs advert music is anything but a dismissal. Imagine a cinematic beauty being accompanied by the glorious record opener 'Shiller' - it'd be somewhat breathtaking. Instead of letting the beauty of the album's finer moments ruin themselves when you discover them in a BMW advert, allow them to be the background to your day-to-day life. The acoustic-led darling 'Mi Vjejo', with its obvious Spanish influence, can be your early morning and the most danceable number, 'Shempi' can be your night out. Let your days be dominated by 'LP3' blasting through your portable player's headphones - you may suffer from the odd side effect of social deprivation but it'll be more than worth it.
'LP3' is meant to be played on repeat, endlessly. You never tire of the shimmering, uplifting sounds that are produced - each number varying in depth and experimentation, there's constantly a new layer of each song to be discovered on each passing listen. And that's how the multi-instrumentalist stance the two-piece have taken has benefited them. Some fans may grow increasingly unsure of the lack of guitars, but it's beneficiary in giving way to some of the more obscure ideas Ratatat have been urging to let loose since their self-titled debut. When the soaring guitars do enter however, they sound more required than ever before - there's a place in every song for them and they consistently deliver the goods whether they come in the form of a piercing solo ('Falcon Job') or a subtle muted part ('Imperials').
Stroud and Mast previously worked best when attempting to make us dance but despite the fact that the more memorable moments on the album happen to have their feet tapping ('Mumtaz Kahn', 'Shempi'), 'LP3' excels when it begins to reveal a more exclusive side of the band to the listener. Initially you expect opener 'Shiller' to explode at any moment but instead it's covered in a thick, cinematic fog and even when the double-layered guitars step onto the scene, you're far too carried away with the atmosphere that surrounds it all - it sets the standard for the rest of the record. A cleaner, more jaunty sound is released at the end of the album but even as the moody, eerie act regresses to give way for the more excitable 'Gipsy Threat' and 'Black Heroes', the likes of 'Fylnn' and 'Imperials' stay fresh in your mind because they expose a side of Ratatat that we've not yet witnessed- and it does the trick.
It's near-impossible to pick out a weakness on the record. Sure, maybe the standard of songs isn't anything overwhelming - nothing's particularly perfect but when you look at the record as a whole-piece instead of analysing various single-tracks you discover a glorious realm of multiformity, consistency and sophistication. Ratatat have essentially matured and remain incomparable to any other act on the planet.
on 6 May 2010
I loved this album. It seems to follow the current trend of creating new music with old ingredients, like Crystal Castles or La Roux, yet it has a really unique creative impetus. It sounds chilled out at times, at times almost like dance, and sometimes intense. Yet at its core it always seems mellow, like it's got quite a hippy vibe. Really worth getting.