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Yo La Tengo – I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One

September 25, 2006

Well, it’s autumn again. For some reason, I feel like the seasons get much better as they go along. Spring is just stupid to me. People try to pass it off as the rebirth of everything, and the fresh start of the new year. I kind of think that’s bullshit. Maybe the latter parts of spring are cool, but for most of it, it involves a lot of standing around thinking to yourself, wow, it’s still really cold. It’s sort of like Friday. Yeah, you like it because it is the last day of the week, but that doesn’t mean it’s actually the weekend until you drive home from work. Summer rocks, I don’t think I need to say much more about that. Of course for a student, there is a little monotiny of just sitting around and not doing too much useful with yourself, but I think everyone needs a time like that. Of course, adults still have to work, but summer can be fun for everyone. Then comes Autumn, which is really the true time of rebirth in my opinion. I don’t know why. When stuff starts turning red and yellow and falling off of trees, well, that’s just pretty. For whatever reason, I absolutely love Autumn. I guess not as much as Winter though. Well, the first few weeks of it. At least until after Christmas when people start getting less festive and celebratory. So I guess the seasons don’t really get better as they go along so much as the year gets better as it goes along until it hits the climax in all the religious holidays, and then sucks balls for the rest of winter, and consequently until Summer really.

I’d call this an album for any time of the year. It’s open-ended and immaginative enough to be thought of as taking place at any time. You can imagine in the above scene in a city that seasons only really effect “if it’s really fucking hot or really fucking cold.” In the suburbs and rural areas it means more, but it isn’t as complicated in Chicago or L.A. Anyway, if I had to place it anywhere, it would be suburbia or in the city, either Summer or Autumn. But that’s really irrelevant. That’s all the useless rambling I’ll do for now.

This is an album written by a band who already knows their stuff and pretty much as nothing to proove. By the time this was written, Yo La Tengo had already recieved a sizeable amount of critical praise for their varied and skillfully made work. At that point in a band or artists career, anything can really be done because there isn’t much more to prove. And yet they did it again. You can really feel the mood of this album, but it covers a lot of ground. You’ll notice that I review a lot of music that is varied. And me saying that won’t ease the repetition. It’s just a fact, things that are more varied and cover more ground are more interesting and therefore more compelling. This album is no exception, and the amount of contemplative energy and emotion that is covered gives the listener not only a much better idea of the band, but a further understanding of this kind of beautiful music.

I’d say a good half the songs are quieter gems and the other half are sprawling adventures that develop and pile on the sound as it goes on. There middle ground, probably more than the two extremes. If you enjoy a sophisticated listen as well as a playful endeavor, you have come to the right place.

The more long winded pieces are the ones that have the most personality. An earlier track named Deeper Into Movies comes to mind first, and is the perfect backdrop to any groundbreaking moment to your life. Autumn Sweater does the same thing, but in a warmer more beat-oriented way. We’re An American Band also has the same effect. Yes, these songs are beautiful, but also very long-winded. All three of these songs sound like they should end maybe a minute or two before they actually do, in which time some more guitars are piled on top to make a more layered sound when they really didn’t need to be. That is actually very much the nature of the entire album; the album almost fills the limits of your standard CD, so you get a lot for your money and that gives the album more shape, but not necessarily more laconic or consistant.

That’s where the shorter pieces come in. For every one of these long winded pieces, there seems to be two short but infinitely sweet ones. Damage is a standout, and while it is not very short at all, it thrives on simplicity and atmosphere. Shadows is a pretty lullaby of sorts that takes advantage of the sweetness of the female voice, and Center of Gravity is a tropical bossa nova song that brings you to sunny Jamaica if you close your eyes and let it do so. It even takes advantage of the wonders that can be achieved if male and female voices work together in harmony.

The songs sandwitched in between are probably the most interesting. Little Honda is, even for a lower profile song, a bitchin cover of a great old tune, Moby Octopad is just great pop, and Green Arrow survives on the simplicity thing for a longer time than expected, be that good or bad (it’s probably bad, but it’s cool anyway). And Sugarcube is the standout song in the middle ground, and while sort of seems to have shallow lyrics at first, grows in sophistication the more you hear it.

There are some problems with the disk, as there are with any disk really. The guys voice is a little annoying and shaky sometimes, and Spec Bebop is just a bad song. It doesn’t really go anywhere. I don’t really like a few other songs too, but really the good outweighs the bad. The longer ones are sophisticated, the shorter ones have more clarity and are consequently more gem-like, and everything in the middle presents it’s diversity very openly and proudly. This is a very fun album that does a lot in the time that it has, and leaves you very satisfied.

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