Ratatat: Magnifique (Because)

Genre spanning Brooklyn duo re-emerge with first new LP in five years

Released Sep 6th, 2015 via Because / By Allan Judkins
Ratatat: Magnifique (Because) With such a broad spectrum of sounds to pick for an electronic rock act (or the other way round if you prefer), Ratatat have kept it in their trousers this time around, figuratively speaking. Sticking with the tried and tested formula of drums, bass, keys and heavily treated guitars. Guitarist Mike Stroud seems to have honed down the trick of recording the guitar at half the speed, then speeding it up to make it sound even higher. The end result is like a majestic cyber-guitar, kind of like Brian May if he were inside a Tamagotchi. Surely not the first time this has been done in the miasma of music ever created but the duo seem to have rightfully claimed it. Considering the licks themselves, after a listen or two through Magnifique it’s notably hard to place your favourite riff. Be careful now…

There’s a definite computer game element - without writing this off as a background album whatsoever, it would fare exceptionally during an evening of Need For Speed and takeaway munch. Single ‘Cream On Chrome’ packs all the punches of a funky radio number complete with an intergalactic synth riff explosion at the end. Wobbly, silly and filthy are all handy buzzwords if you’re not listening while reading.

Vocals are absent on this album, to this writer’s knowledge vocals never really have been written into in Ratatat’s repertoire (try saying that last bit out loud). However to help characterise the sound, they have harnessed the power of good old intermittent tuning between radio stations. Yep, like QOTSA did on Songs For The Deaf, but just musical interludes presumably composed by Ratatat, and not American radio link impersonations. The slide guitar is also a large asset throughout, especially on lighter tracks.

Quite a lot of early Daft Punk/Justice moments occur, particularly in ‘Nightclub Amnesia’. One of the more grittier dancefloor friendly tunes, this one comes with added glitch, notably more than any other track on Magnifique. Special props for the ending of this track, killing the beat dead with what sounds like one big hit of a Tibetan singing bowl. Imagine someone strutting down the street as if they think they own the place, only to walk square into a scaffolding bar knocking them out clean while the resonance of said bar lasts for nearly ten seconds.

While an unlikely act to include a cover on their album, ‘I Will Return’ blends in rather superbly and acts as the slow, glistening burnout track. The original had to be researched, and after hearing this version first, the original is like hearing Ratatat’s beardy dad (Springwater, aka Phil Cordell, recorded in 1971). Echoes of The Moody Blues and Procol Harum come dazzling back. Apparently they have opened with this tune at recent shows, which is an interesting spin on their live experience.

Some may say it’s not as adventurous or as deep cutting as previous outings, some have said it’s got the punch but it lacks ability to leave that warm feeling inside. Understandably though, after a gap of five years since the last album LP4 it’s clear to see that the Brooklyn pair are happily immersed in making music again, and a fine example of forty six minutes of audio fun has been made to justify this.