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July 23, 2024

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Yo La Tengo
I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One (Matador Records)

By: Pete

I just fell out of love with the coolest, hottest, geeky queer chick in Los Angeles. No shit. Make all the Kevin Smith jokes you want, but it's true. And it was tough. Much tougher than falling IN love with her was. She is, after all, the Total Package. Brilliant. Extra- ordinarily talented writer/actor/musician. Drop-dead gorgeous. And fucking COOL! One time, we were at a strip bar in the middle of Nowhere, CA, to see a couple of old-school porn starlets dance. When she handed me a stack of George Washingtons to stuff in my choice of cleavage, I knew I was done for.

I can't help but blame New Jersey's Yo La Tengo. If those bastards hadn't created one of the most perfect records of the last five years, this never would have happened. It all started when I was smoking a joint behind the theatre she stars at, perusing that week's purchase from No Life. I had barely torn the packaging open when Mimi grabbed my arm (I was ready to punch her until I saw she wasn't a Hollywood cop):

"Is that the new Yo La Tengo?"

"Uh, yeah. It is..."

"Can I borrow it?"

"Uhhh, well, I, uh just picked it up and I haven't..."

"Can I come over and listen to it with you? I was at rehearsal last night, and we were listening to 'Fakebook' on vinyl, and Gary the psychotic director had this one on vinyl and he wouldn't play it because he wasn't ready to take it out of the shrink wrap..he has OCD...and um, am I still talking?"

"Come over around 10:30"

And she did. I let her unwrap it, even. And put it on for me. Uh huh huh. And was I glad she did. Because this record IS love. It teases, tantalizes, seduces, pounds, pulses, swirls and shifts gears faster than Arie Luyendyke. And if you're not careful, you might get your teeth kicked in.

Each of the sixteen tracks is a finely crafted, textured work of genius. Right off the bat, "Return to Hot Chicken" sucks you in gently, like a surreptitious touch of hands in a 7-11. "Moby Octopad" wins Sample of the Year, with portions of Burt Bacharach's "Birdbath" thrown in. Of course, all samples aside, these kids can flat-out play their instruments. And the instrumentals really steal the show. Besides the aforementioned "Hot Chicken", the Hoboken trio has blessed us with "Green Arrow" and "Spec Bebop", 10:40 worth of the most darkly passionate guitar wizardry I've ever heard. Ira Kaplan could teach J Mascis a trick or twelve. Georgia Hubley's staid percussion provides the rock-solid foundation that gives Ira all the room he needs to explode.

Plenty of radio-friendly single-type pop songs here too, kids. "Sugarcube" (which Jeff Renard insists is an LSD ref), "Autumn Sweater", the Beach Boys "Little Honda", and especially "Stockholm Syndrome", sung in a simple sincere falsetto by bassman James McNew.

Love ain't always pretty. Sometimes it's chocolate and chronic weed and cold lemonade on a desert July afternoon. Sometimes it hurts like a motherfucker, particularly when the one you love is simultaneously perfect and unattainable (which I think may be the same thing, but I've rambled enough for one review). Sometimes it's all those things at once.

If you've ever walked in those shoes, buy this record. Take it home, lay in the dark, smell your own feet pouring out of the speakers and cry your stinkin' heart out. You'll be soooo glad you did.

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