Yo La Tengo - I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One

by Bob Coyne Rating: Release Date:1997-04-21

We always suspected they had it in them, but who knew Yo La Tengo would finally craft a record as wholeheartedly terrific as this? Fourteen years into their career as indie rock's low-key mainstays, the Hoboken, New Jersey, trio have arrived--and it's about time. It's as though simply by sticking around long enough and doing the same thing over and over while constantly refining and focusing Yo La have evolved from scattered, record-collecting eccentrics into the true classicists of 1990s indie rock. Blending elements of what has illuminated Sonic Youth, Stereolab, Pavement and My Bloody Valentine, they've long had a clear voice but never sounded so comfortable using it. Wilfully eclectic husband-and-wife multi-instrumentalists Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley--with third member James McNew never sounding more permanent--have previously tended to alternate between their instincts to be a pop rock band and to serve as artsy noisemakers. On I Can Hear..., the group doesn't have to choose between songs and sounds. There's noise leaking out everywhere, but it's always under control. Even the most layered soundscapes--songs like "Autumn Sweater", "Sugarcube", or "Moby Octopad"--have unforgettable melodies, with fragile harmonies to boot. "We're an American Band" (not a Grand Funk cover) could be Simon and Garfunkel singing along to the Jesus and Mary Chain. And on tracks like "Shadows" or "My Little Corner of the World", where the melody consumes everything else, deceptively simple backdrops provide a less-is-more atmosphere. Just in time for indie rock to catch up with Yo La Tengo, Yo La Tengo has caught up with itself. --Roni Sarig

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