Thursday, November 12, 2015

Yo La Tengo - And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out

Yo La Tengo had done mellow before, but not quite like this.  In 2000 they released an entire album of mostly original, 'quiet' material.  The similar pacing of the album throughout means songs don't really stand out.  Georgia Hubley and Ira Kaplan's ghostly duet on the eerie opener Everyday is a fine six and a half minutes of droning unease.  It's followed up with Kaplan's whispered Our Way To Fall, which floats along serenely, in common with much of the album.  Therein lies the problem: some songs (Let's Save Tony Orlando's House, You Can Have It All) veer uncomfortably close to cheesy, easy listening territory.  Others (Last Days of Disco, The Crying of Lot G) are generally a bit sleepy and not hugely engaging.

There are exceptions to this.  The bashfully slow Tears Are In Your Eyes features a fine icy vocal from Hubley.  On the other extreme, the totally out of place rocker Cherry Chapstick barrels along in the manner of their earlier, harder-edged material ie it's a bit like Sonic Youth.  In fact the stronger material is towards the end of the album, From Black to Blue and Madeline are quite dozy but they noodle along in a sort of interesting way, with decent almost-choruses.  The furtive organ piece Tired Hippo sets the scene nicely for the final track Night Falls on Hoboken.  Starting with a gentle strum it builds gradually for seven minutes, becoming a full on drone piece for the remaining ten minutes.  It's hugely self-indulgent but kind of cool all the same.

Some of Yo La Tengo's other albums are more varied, and in many ways more enjoyable, but this one has a lazy charm.