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Classics

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Album Review

There's something strangely melancholic about Ratatat's sophomore record, Classics. Something that rests behind the dancey drum machine beats and the quirky synths, or even the alternating guitars. Outwardly it's a fun album, triumphant and full of majestic refrains and riffs — you could play it for your indie rock friends if you wanted to get them to dance a little and were too afraid to play Daft Punk or Juan Atkins — but there's still something in it, introspection gracenoted between the intricate (but never too ornate or over-complicated or even lush) instrument layers and classical arpeggios, contemplation sitting in bittersweet descents and acoustic guitar chords, French cinema- and IDM-induced reflection, that makes it somehow all very sad. It's music for the soundtrack of a film in which even though the sky is clear — there is sun, an open road perhaps — the characters have difficulty smiling. Even the more "upbeat" songs, "Lex," "Tropicana," or "Wildcat," for example, never completely shed their pensive skins, rub off the dirt that smudges their bellies and faces. Classics is a record that demands a bit of attention, something to assure it that you hear each phrase, each contradiction, each sound as it enters and leaves. Something to assure it that you know the spaces in which little happens are as important as those that are full. There are no solos here: just the comings and goings of thoughts and feelings and sounds, and though there is a circularity to the album, it's not boring; rather it just allows time for everything that Ratatat are trying to convey to manifest itself fully. Through its subtlety, Classics celebrates the nature and resilience of the human spirit while simultaneously acknowledging its defects, everything and anything you could ever ask an album to be, and nothing more, which is just enough.

Customer Reviews

The greatest thing I have ever heard.

Ratatat's "Lex" off of this album is like a virus. It enters your body through your ears and swims through your bloodstream like a caffinated school of fish, immediately making it's way into your soul and makes you feel as if you are riding a musical rollercoaster if you close your eyes. It is a song that flexes all of Ratatat's muscles that releases a pure dump of dopamine and is the greatest thing I have EVER heard in my life. The only word that can describe it is omnipotent; I can listen to it thousands of times. With that said, Wildcat and Kennedy are also extremely brilliant. All of Ratatat's work is brain-meltingly powerful, thus proving amazing music does not always need lyrics.

Ratatat ROCKS!

My first acquaintance with Ratatat was when I got Kid CuDi’s album, Man on the Moon: The End of Day. One of my favorite songs on that album was Alive, which featured Ratatat. A friend of mine recommended that I listen to Classics by Ratatat, and I was not disappointed. As I traveled back home for break, Classics’ vibrant harmonics turned my rather dull train ride into a fantastic adventure.
Ratatat’s approach to music reminds me of early technosonic music (this is a part where I talk about electronic music history, if you don’t care about that then you can skip this paragraph). Ratatat’s songs are entirely instrumental (with the exception of a growling cat in the song “Wildcat”). Modern technosonic music is dominated by the use of samples, but this lack of sampling is reminiscent of the staunchly anti-sampling Electronische Musik. Herbert Eimert would have applauded these unadulterated tonal creations of Ratatat. But even though both the Electronische Music movement and Ratatat composed pieces solely through synthesized sounds, the two are quite different. Unlike the avant-garde German creations, Ratatat’s songs are structured around a central rhythm, which causes the music to sound more mainstream. Furthermore, Ratatat’s music is produced through familiar instruments (i.e. a bass guitar) rather than obscure noises created by computers and oscillators (used in Electronische Musik). Essentially Ratatat’s music relates to the tonal purism of the Electronische Music movement. This instrumental music, however; also reminds me of the electronic instruments that arose during the 1920’s (i.e. the Theremin), for these instruments played center stage in their respective pieces. In Classic there are no lyrics, fast-tempo beats, or disruptive samples. Every element in the composition is included to highlight the visceral effects of the synthesized guitars. Like the Clara Rockmore’s performances, the music of Ratatat is centered about that wonderful yet eerie quality produced by the electronic instruments.
Now why I liked Classics so much... Ratatat’s reliance on synthesized chords and heavy guitar distortion creates a layering of sounds that fills your auditory senses with waves of harmony. While listening to Classics, the buzzing guitar chords caused me to warm with delight. The effects of Classics are like a malaise tide of splendor. The tonal quality of the pieces I can best relate to Justice (who are also a great musical duo). Many of Justice’s song sound structurally similar to that of Ratatat’s, but Classics carries a mellower vibe than that of Justice. The calm demeanor is also another reason why I liked Classics. Unlike Drum n’ Bass, Trip-Hop, or Trance, Classics does not have a fast tempo or heavy beat. Classics chill tempo creates a defined structure that allows Ratatat to embark on a musical exploration, while still grounding the mind in a beat.
My favorite songs from Classics are “Lex”, “Loudpipes”, and “Nostrand”. As I write this review, I have the intro of “Loudpipes” stuck in my head. “Loudpipes” is the most popularly downloaded song from this album and for the right reasons. The song is composed of two themes: one with heavy guitar rifts and other with a chilling piano. The section with the guitar is characteristic of the other songs from the album. While listening to the guitar theme, I was filled with exuberance. The ascensions of chords seemed to steadily sweep me through piece. Juxtaposed with the synthesized guitar is the piano theme. The piano theme is somber and quite. During this theme, my mind took a break from the jovial quality of the guitar rifts, and turned to a more reflective state. Together these two themes create a masterpiece that is both uplifting and deep. “Loudpipes” is not the only great song in the album, but it does stand out.
Most of the songs on the album, however, don’t really seem to stand out, and maybe that is the biggest problem for the album. I liked Classics, because I enjoy listening to albums as a whole. The songs on classics are short (which is another downside), but they flow well together. There isn’t much of a noticeable difference between songs. Yes, the pieces have distinctive qualities, but after awhile parts of one song seem to blend with others. If you are thinking about buying a song from Classics, think about buying a few others, because the album works well as a whole. Furthermore, the album is only 10 songs and forty some minutes long, so it is kind of short. However, this shortness only makes you want Ratatat more. If I had to rate this album I would give it a 9.5/10. Classics is truly a classic!

excellent album

if you like instrumental rock/electronic this is a fabulous album.
i keep finding more that i like about it as the layers in the songs come out through multiple listenings. pretty much every song is infectious but some big favorites are 'lex', 'wildcat', and 'nostrand'.
get it buy it!

Biography

Formed: 2001 in New York, NY

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Formerly known as Cherry, New York's rock-meets-electronica duo Ratatat feature multi-instrumentalist/programmer Evan Mast and guitarist Mike Stroud. Mast was also the brains behind the pretty laptop pop of E*vax, and with his brother E*Rock he ran the indie electronic label Audio Dregs. Stroud also played, in the studio and on tour, with artists including Ben Kweller and Dashboard Confessional. Between these duties (and Mast's job as a graphic designer), the duo found time to work on their collaboration....
Full Bio
Classics, Ratatat
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