May 6, 2004

Test Spin: Ratatat

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Before Listening to the Album, After Reading the Press Release and Seeing the Cover:

I really don’t want to listen to this right now. It seems like more NYC hipster indie rock, which can get annoying. Luckily, there are no lyrics. To be fair I have to try to disconnect myself, as impossible as it may be, from all these secondary characteristics and simply focus on the music as a self-contained, independent entity. If what ensues is a positive review then its probably one pretty damn good album.

After Listening to the Album:

I was wrong. There are lyrics sort of. In the beginning of the album and between a few tracks, there is a stereotypically black rapper’s (I think) voice sampled saying some sort of catch phrase along the lines of something you would hear on a Sprite commercial. There’s a distinctly appealing aesthetic in some backpacker rap/hip hop music whether its a smooth, soulful, bluesy rhythm or freewheeling freestyle, saying what you want no matter what anyone thinks. My guess is that they’re not so subtly trying to appropriate that feel for their music with these samples or at the least exploiting their connection. As a result, their merger of hip hop, rock, and electronica comes off as generic, instead of a fusion of influences coalescing into a distinct identity or vibe. There are simple dance beats with swift melodies and electronically tinged distortion that always seem to come in for a quick pick-me-up before once again settling into the laid back melody. It has its pleasant moments that one might describe as “chill,” but the review that was included in the press release said that Ratatat is war music. At most it might be the soundtrack to a fight between Justin Timberlake and Black Eyed Peas.

Archived article by Deepal Chadha
Red Letter Daze Staff Writer