Ratatat deliver a nuanced sound on ‘Maqnifique’ [Album Review]
Five years without new Ratatat music has felt like an eternity to fans. When the release of their fifth album Magnifique was finally announced, the excitement was palpable. Suitably named, the album is worth the wait.
It’s arguable that Magnifique has a different tone than its predecessors. Ratatat’s instrumentals create a simple, yet-fluid atmosphere with strings, psychedelic electric guitars, subtle drums, and retro synthesizers. Nonetheless, the general melodies and utilization of samples deliver a cadence that is distinctively Ratatat.
The album sets a quirky foundation with “Intro,” employing a Vaudeville-esque piano melody and electric guitar accents in lieu of brass. Moving into “Cream On Chrome” and its namesake track, two more themes of Magnifique are introduced. Opening with a dramatic string sequence, “Magnifique” deviates into a melody reminiscent of a beach in Hawaii, frequently detected throughout the album and especially prevalent in “Supreme.” Meanwhile, “Cream On Chrome” adopts a 1960’s funk style, using electric guitar settings from the decade along with a clearly audible and groovy bassline. “Chrome Fingers” experiences the same electric funk tone, as well as the more modernized “Countach.”
Later in the LP, “Abrasive” and “Pricks Of Brightness” add a touch of 1980s’s rock with harder electric guitar sounds — reminiscent of what one would hear in classic Mötorhead. On the more traditional side, “Rome” is unquestionably Ratatat. Beginning calm and nuanced like early classics by the band, the duo incorporates a keyboard chord progression similar to “El Pico.” Hints of 1980s rock also make an understated appearance. Taking an eclectic approach for the final tracks, “Prime Time” transports the listener to a Jamaican landscape with a reggae bassline and rhythm. “I Will Return” assists in winding down Magnifique, accompanying a slow tempo with a nostalgic sound-scape that incites a yearning for more.
Ratatat’s innate talent is solidified with each new release. Bringing their best as per usual, Magnifique reminds us that sometimes simpler and toned-down is all that’s needed to create a superb piece of music. They’ve easily satisfied nostalgic cravings through the incorporation of their signature synth, keyboard, and guitar components. Already, the ending leaves us excited to see the direction they’ll take in their next EP or album. At least its release on July 17 ensures we have something more permanent to hold us over until that time.