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    Mon, 21 Aug 2006 17:02:15

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    Album Reviews: Classics by Ratatat

    Ratatat's self-titled debut was a polarizing album. For everyone I knew that loved it, there was someone ready to condemn them for being a silly novelty act. I personally embraced their simple electronic instrumentals, fit for a 1986 Nintendo game, but I could definitely understand some of the backlash. After living with that first album for a couple of years, I don't find myself wanting to listen to more than one or two of the songs in a row. Listening to the whole album is like eating pop rocks and microwave popcorn for dinner. It's definitely enjoyable once in awhile, but... You get the idea. So possibly the gimmick wore thin?

    I'm happy to report that Classics grabbed hold of me the same way Ratatat's debut album did. Evan Mast and Mike Stroud have a unique way of blending synthesized beats and electric guitars to create what can best be described as the soundtrack to a digital life. The songs can have the weight and story arc or a rock song ("Montanita"), but at other times, like the stellar "Wildcat," Ratatat are just a couple of goofballs showing off. But when all the electronic shenanigans are swept away, at core these are good pop songs -- "Tropicana" could easily be a Paul McCartney melody.

    It will be interesting to see if they'll be able to keep this fresh for a third album. And I'm sure we'll all grow a little tired of Ratatat's songs as they are presumably already slotted to help peddle iPods and underwear. But let's just enjoy Classics for what it is -- some of the most fun music you'll hear this year. - Doug Kamin

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