My wife hates leftovers.
Her reasoning is sound: She grew up in a large family where leftovers were a financial necessity in many cases. But no matter how I try to convince her that the chili is always better on the second day or how there is nothing better than a cold meatloaf sandwich, she inevitably will chose a bowl of cereal over yesterday’s menu.
I bring this up because LP4 from Ratatat essentially is composed of the leftovers from their last effort, LP3. There is the element of an actual string quartet on the latest offering and a bit more drama in some of the electronic flourishes, but make no mistake: The songs presented here were first introduced for possible inclusion on the previous release.
But my taste buds don’t place LP4 in the same category as yesterday’s chili, mostly because there’s very little flavor throughout the record’s standard-issue groove thing. And for a band that actively reminds you that they were the first to be honored with the keys to the Guggenheim Museum, you would think that they’d be able to cook up a bit more creative juices with this mix.
Their best known song—a staple on All Things Considered music bumpers for a few years now—featured a cougar roar (“Wildcat“). Ratatat is now at the point where they’re sampling parakeets instead, a telling metaphor of LP4‘s lack of carnivorous bite.
And while Ratatat was never really about in-your-face rhythms or expansive soundscapes, they were at least infectious and memorable.
They aren’t here, and what’s left is a tepid and easily forgettable affair.
Take the track “Drugs,” which sounds about as potent as a Dexatrim with its pedestrian beats and buzz-killing guitar effects. Even with plenty of pharmaceuticals on hand, you get the sense that drugs would merely cloud your ability to find something a little more appropriate to ride out the high.
And that’s one of LP4‘s better moments. There’s little supporting evidence from the rest of the songs presented that they are able to stir anything more than the band’s contractual requirements.
What they do manage to do quite effectively is to make fans nostalgic for a time when Ratatat’s punctual rhythms and tight guitar patterns sounded fresh and worthy of the Tupperware.
Video: Ratatat – “Drugs”
Video: Ratatat – “Mahalo”