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Ratatat

Like many of their contemporaries from the bygone dance-rock era, Ratatat's Mike Stroud and Evan Mast are trying to expand beyond the fizzy, body-moving instrumentals for which they first gained attention. Ratatat's 2004 self-titled debut gained admirers alongside accusations of cranking out sound-alike tracks, so Classics offers some variety alongside the breakbeats. With dashed-out, reedy guitar lines and accordion-like effects, "Montanita" comes on like Calexico on speed. Other tracks, like "Gettysburg" and "Tropicana," have a leisurely, midtempo pace. Meanwhile, the duo makes sure to include dance-oriented cuts like "Wildcat" and "Lex." Stroud's ringing guitar style can get annoying, however, and not all of the 10 tracks (particularly "Loud Pipes") live up to their ambitions. Plus, Ratatat's basic combination — hard guitars and booming electronic beats — still seems inherently limiting. Maybe this wouldn't be the case in different hands, but for now, these Classics are a love-it-or-leave-it proposition.


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