The Wax Conspiracy

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

I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One, which looks something like this:
I feel like a kid again, my eyes are glued to the floor/I hope I mumbled goodbye as you walked out the door
has got to be one of the most frustrating CDs that I have ever bought.

The first half of this CD has some of the best songs that I've ever heard in my entire life (not really, but for the sake of hyperbole...) whereas the rest I feel like I'm listening to as if I'm struggling my way out of La Brea Tar Pits.

Seriously, the next time you want to write a five-minute instrumental featuring slide guitar just come over my place and cram cookie dough into my breathing passages, because, well, the effect is basically the same, only in doing it my way I get to, you know, accidentally swallow some cookie dough. I WRITE LONG SENTENCES!

I would never have thought of Ira Kaplan as a guitar hero but some of the sounds that he squeezes out of his guitar on this album are just gorgeous.
I refer specifically to the feedback and noise on "Deeper into Movies" and the guitar solos on "Sugarcube" and "Stockholm Syndrome."
There's an off-the-cuff elegance to his guitar playing that is just mesmerising.
Also, the good work he does on the 10-minute plus "Spec Bebop" is beyond reproach, proving to all the naysayers that one needs neither melody nor rhythm to write a song—texture is enough, baby!

Yo La Tengo also has the goy/birl vocals that I so dearly love: Georgia Hubley's backing vocals on "Damage" are just beautiful, as is her fragile singing on "Shadows" and her harmonies most everywhere else.

Lyrically, Yo La Tengo mine the popular—and, by now, empty—mines of personal politics and relationships.
However, and probably because Ira and Georgia are happily married (to each other, no less) they, while certainly sounding bittersweet, never actually come across as being mopey, which is a relief because, face it, there's nothing more boring than an unhappy love story and life isn't a funeral.

The second half of the album is definitely the weaker of the two, however, there are still few shining moments: the aforementioned "Spec Bebop," which never outstays its welcome, the intertwining vocals on the doo-wop-ish "Center of Gravity," and the harmonies overlapping the beautiful droning on "We're an American Band" are all amazing, which help put the album back on its feet.

I think that the main problem is that the three weakest (read: boring) songs are grouped together on tracks 10 through 13, which just robs the album of the momentum that it had been carefully building.

However, if you were to like these songs—and it's perfectly conceivable that you would because they're not bad songs, I just don't like them—then you'll probably agree that I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One is pretty spectacular, and certainly worthy of its landmark status.
In fact, it's certainly good enough to warrant some digging into Yo La Tengo's back catalogue.

I'm told that Painful is as good a place as any to start.

There's a cover of The Beach Boy's "Little Honda" and of some-people-I-don't-know's "My Little Corner of the World," fucked if I've heard either of the original versions.
Well, I've probably heard the The Beach Boys original, but as for that other song, "fucked if I've heard..."

OK, I've said "gorgeous" and "beautiful" and "texture" enough to leave me emasculated for the next 14-years. I'm just gonna go negate that a little by drinking me some beer and watching me some sports.

calling on the dogs
calling on the dogs
calling on the dogs
calling on the dogs
calling on the dogs
calling on the gods

Belvedere Jehosophat

Reviewed on Thursday, 28 October 2004

The Wax Conspiracy




Other reviews by Belvedere Jehosophat