Yo La Tengo’s new album…

…is called I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass.

That’s an excellent title, which is only appropriate, because it’s an excellent album.  After two underrated collections of subdued material, the band turns their amps back up for a varied, almost psychotically restless album in the vein of their 1997 fan favorite, I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One.

Things kick off with “Pass the Hatchet, I Think I’m Goodkind,” a messy, 11-minute guitar freakout that annoys me because I know it will please all those tasteless fans who didn’t enjoy the last two records because they didn’t have enough guitars, but which can’t annoy me too much because it’s also a pretty good song.

It’s followed by “Beanbag Chair,” a bouncy, horn-heavy, piano-driven pop number that couldn’t be more different stylistically from the album’s opener unless it were Japanese gangsta rap.  From there we have the sad, Daniel Johnston-with-strings folk of “I Feel Like Going Home,” the psychedelic “The Race is On Again,” the 50s-beach-party-on-drugs “Watch Out for Me Ronnie,” and everything in between.  But because Yo La Tengo always sound like Yo La Tengo, no matter what genres they attempt, the transitions work.  At an hour and 17 minutes, the album’s running time will be a turn off for some, but at no point does it drag, in great part because it never stays in one place too long.

For me, Yo La Tengo’s best record is, and probably always will be, 2000’s And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out, their pretty, romantic, nostalgia-tinged collection of rhythmic tunes for summer nights.  But most people seem to prefer the try-anything jukebox shuffle of I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One, and I can’t blame them.  For those people, they’ll soon have quite the debate as to which is better: I Can Hear the Heart or I Am Not Afraid of You.  We’ll probably need a bit more distance to give an informed opinion.  But either is a great introduction to a great band, and I’d recommend picking up one or the other today.

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3 Responses to “Yo La Tengo’s new album…”

  1. yllama Says:

    “Japanese gangsta rap” is precisely the genre I was hoping Yo La Tengo would tackle on its latest. Oh well. Maybe next time.

  2. Kristine Says:

    Hello! I’ve tracked you down from this post and was wondering if you’d be interested in joining the (currently empty) Buffy WordPress community over at btvs.wordpress.com. To add you as an author I’ll need your e-mail address, which you can send to btvs@goowy.com. If you’re not interested, then sorry for bugging you!

  3. Best music of the year « Flotsam in the HotSun Says:

    […] Yo La Tengo – I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass (discussed here) Sonic Youth – Rather Ripped (discussed here) Bob Dylan – Modern Times (now with more plagiarism!) The Starlight Mints – Drowaton (they’re getting progressively less weird, and the departure of their string section hurts, but their latest has better energy than 2003’s Built on Squares.) […]

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