Science & Tech Editor Lewis Norman is underwhelmed following the hype surrounding Ratatat’s fifth studio album, Magnifique.
“[the album] feels like a 16-year-old’s GCSE Music project”
17 July 2015, XL
[dropcap size=small]T[/dropcap]he world really is exciting at the minute. Picture the scene: in about 50 years you’ll be able to tell your grandchildren that you lived in an age of technological discovery; the world-domination of Apple; the dawn of conscious robotics; the birth of the hoverboard. So, in such a tantalising era of innovation, why are electronic duo Ratatat still rehashing the same 8-bit electronica that feels like a 16-year-old’s GCSE Music project?
In fact, why am I even asking that question? Ratatat don’t care. If Ratatat really cared about what the critics thought they would have ditched this act years ago. ‘I’ve been rapping for 17 years; I don’t write my shit anymore; I just pick it from my head’ MC Young Churf says at the beginning of debut single ‘Seventeen Years’. Is this not exactly what Ratatat are doing now? Magnifique doesn’t feel like a carefully crafted album at all; Magnifique is an easel upon which Ratatat have splashed every single idea they had floating around in their head. It’s not a piece of art but it’s pretty good fun.
All that is obvious from the eclectic selection of tracks presented to us. Standout track ‘Cream on Chrome’ is slick and chilled in delivery and genuinely feels effortless. Juxtaposed against the rough ‘Abrasive’, the liquid bass of ‘Countach’ and the soft-footed ‘Drift’, the first half of the album never settles down and makes for an interesting listen. We’re also treated to a cover of Springwater’s ‘I Will Return’, and it is a damn good one too.
Despite this, it doesn’t change the fact that Magnifique is still several streaks away from Ratatat’s finest work: 2006’s Classics. To put it simply: the hooks just aren’t there. The thrilling uplift of ‘Loud Pipes’ hasn’t been revisted since… well… ‘Loud Pipes’. When you take away the hooks you take away the raw excitement. Most of Magnifique doesn’t make a lasting impression, belonging in edgy London coffee shops, plodding away in the background. But that doesn’t matter, the singles are there to spice up festival setlists. Magnifique may be average but Ratatat really doesn’t seem too worried about it.
Lewis Norman, Science & Tech Editor