For holding such credibility within the music scene, Evan Mast and Mike Stroud have managed to maintain a low profile since their group’s eponymous debut in 2004. And for much of 2006 they still managed to fly under the radar. The two retreated to upstate New York to record at a house owned by Bjork and apparently considered their time spent there to be amazing. Then, in July, a few of the tracks hit the blogosphere, and Ratatat became buzz worthy among indie bloggers once again. But they’ve still kept a low profile.
With Classics, Mast and Stroud sought to maintain their guitar-shredding-over-programmed-drums aesthetic but expand the scope of their sound to include more musical influences. But Classics isn’t an album that is accessible from beginning the end. Tracks such as "Lex" and "Wildcat" are catchy, polished, and clean. But they are also the simplest in terms of composition. "Tropicana" and "Nostrand" require a few close listens to appreciate. They start mellow, build up, deflate, and then build up again. The mundane moments not only have their own melodic value, but they also enhance the impact of bigger moments. When it’s listened to in this manner, Classics unfolds as an intricate listening experience.
And although their knack for the subtle must be applauded, it must also be criticized. There is nothing to dislike about Classics, but I get the feeling they’re holding back. After hearing remixes such as Ghostface‘s "Run" off the limited Ratatat Remixes release, I have to wonder why they don’t incorporate more vocals, live or sampled, into their work. After hearing them play off the dramatic inflection of Ghost’s voice, I’m certain many tracks off Classics would be improved. This was the Ratatat album I have been waiting for, but I expect (and demand) more from the Brooklyn super-team.