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Yo La Tengo : And then nothing turned itself inside-out

REVIEW: Yo La Tengo: And then nothing turned itself inside-out
3.1.2002 by Sean

Yo La Tengo: And then nothing turned itself inside-out [Matador Records, 2000]

Two words? Evening haze.

It's always interesting to me to see how different micro-generations of music fans appreciate different bands. Every four or five years, a new wave of kids discover indie music - that is, 'difficult' or 'alternative' music, not necessarily released on an independent label - and latch on to particular groups or subgenres. Because of the quantum nature of these initiations, however, people of different ages do honestly have different tastes in music. While it's not the cliche of all forty year-olds preferring Barbra Streisand to the White Stripes, you are likely to find that 25 year-olds dig Dinosaur Jr. and the Magnetic Fields, while the newly-savvy 16 year-olds just can't get into those older Pavement albums, preferring the new stuff from Clinic or the Notwist.

For many, Yo La Tengo was known and appreciated for its contributions to droning, feedback laden guitar-rock. While the husband-and-wife dynamic of two-thirds of the group always gave a lingering sense of romance and fleeting glances, the Hoboken trio was downright loud on Painless and other early discs. It's this messy, rock sound that let the band act as a reasonable stand-in for the Velvet Underground in the film Who Shot Andy Warhol?, but it also stood in their way when it came to their most recent release, And then nothing turned itself inside-out.

And then nothing... is a quiet, moody collection of songs. Murmured lyrics thread through in-and-out strokes of guitar and organ; drums shuffle and twitch next to underwater bass pulse. It's one of the most beautiful albums I own. Ira's lyrics express his love and self-doubt in astonishingly true terms, his slightly tremulous voice a perfect counterpart to Georgia's Julie Doiron mumble.

This said, I have friends who don't like this album. Many of them are Yo La Tengo fans. They are members of an older guard of indie rock listeners, and they just can't deal with the muted YLT sound on this disc. They wanted the guitar squeal that appears only on "Cherry Chapstick", not the after-the-party whispers of "Last Days of Disco" and "Let's Save Tony Orlando's House". For me, however, And then nothing... rises far above all of Yo La Tengo's previous work, and it benefits tremendously from its quiet, melancholy atmosphere. From the doo-wop pop of "You Can Have It All" to the Hawaiian vibe of "Tired Hippo", it is a near-perfect record, appreciated best when in a warm room, by a dark window.

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