I’ve never seen a band so devoid of charisma. One wonders why losers pine over Weezer’s peachy aesthetic when you have three certified dorkotaurs from Hoboken to grovel at. Then you realize the horrible truth, Yo La Tengo don’t play nerd music, they play actual music, the kind with soul, balls, ambiguities, joy, lust and all that shit. Weezer was ripping off The Feelies anyway, which is another New Jersey band you should be checking out if you haven’t already.
Anyway, Yo La Tengo has a lot of albums under their belt. For most of their career they’ve had the dual stigma of being a stateside representation of shoegaze and a modern rendering of The Velvet Underground. The latter inclination came full-circle when they appeared as a surrogate version of said band in Marry Harron’s I Shot Andy Warhol. With that kind of albatross, one can only wonder, after one has thoroughly pissed one’s pants, as to what a band would do to shake it, if they cared to at all. Surely they must need a most ambitious recording, not one that reinvents the wheel so-to-speak but one that kicks some solid ass and draws considerable tears.
I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One is all over the place, indescribable at parts. Very roughly, it’s a pop album with frills up the ass, oh but how wondrous and loins-moistening those frills are. The mood swings themselves recall some tense, but exhilarating pleasure. At one moment, they’re bouncy, festive and innocently loving on “Sugarcube” and one track later, the sob story oozes ever so slowly on the plodding and ambient “Damage.” The opposite is true with “Autumn Sweater” and their cover of “Little Honda.”
What’s consistent though is their melding of noise-rock and pop songwriting. Sonic Youth had done it, this much is true, but Sonic Youth are agitators at heart, their marriage of noise and stripped-down rock is an uneasy one, but they’re Catholic so they can’t split – as of Rather Ripped, they’re separated. But Yo La Tengo’s pairing go hand in hand from song to song like a hop, skip and a stroll along the beach. The melodies tug the heartstrings while the blaring guitars and angular solos (hear “Deeper Into Movies”) are the ultimate catharsis. It’s even better when the lights go out, this I assure you.