Saturday, September 16, 2006
Release Date-Aug 22, 2006
Genre/Style-Instrumental Rock/Indie Electronic/Indie Pop/Indie Rock
Biography-by Heather Phares Formerly known as Cherry, New York's rock-meets-electronica duo Ratatat features multi-instrumentalist/programmer Evan Mast and guitarist Mike Stroud. Mast is also the brains behind the pretty laptop pop of E*vax, and with his brother E*Rock he runs the indie electronic label Audio Dregs. Stroud also plays, 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. Mast worked beats and song ideas in his bedroom studio, which he gave to Stroud to develop while the guitarist was on the road. Though Mast and Stroud began working together in 2001, things began to really come together for the pair in 2003: in May, while they were still called Cherry, they played their first gig; by September they changed their name to Ratatat; and that November they issued their first single on Audio Dregs, which had a limited run of 1,100 copies. Dates with Franz Ferdinand, Interpol, and Batles followed, and Ratatat signed to XL Records. The duo's self-titled debut album arrived in spring 2004, coinciding with another round of dates with bands including !!!, Electrelane, and Tortoise, and two years later their sophomore record, Classics, was released.
Review-by Marisa Brown 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.
Year Album Chart Peak
2006 Classics Top Heatseekers 30
2006 Classics Top Independent Albums 34
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