Yo La Tengo
I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One


5.0
classic

Review

by Chris Jackson USER (177 Reviews)
April 25th, 2006 | 123 replies | 23,883 views


Release Date: 1997 | Tracklist


5 of 5 thought this review was well written

Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley started out as a husband wife duo. They like they refer to themselves as �I�ve got it� but they were a little tricky and used the Spanish form, Yo La Tengo. They came up with the name while poking fun at a Spanish outfielder that played for the dreadful 1962 Mets. This is sort of ironic since Ira is an avid Mets fan and the music has no Spanish influence what so ever. Yo La Tengo aren�t exactly a husband wife duo, but it�s to time consuming and pointless to name every single member that has played in Yo La Tengo. They have been around since 1984 and they have never been able to find a reliable guitarist or bassist. Oddly enough they have done a great job without a steady line up and have created some excellent music.

I�m going to go out a limb and say something preposterous, so bare with me. It took Ira and Georgia fourteen years to release their most critically acclaimed and �best� album. As far as I�m concerned Yo La Tengo are the only band that have ever done this, I can�t think of any other group that has made their best album after seventeen years of being together. If you object then please enlighten me. Weather this is true or not I am still amazed at how much this duo/trio have improved over the past seventeen years and have only gotten better as time has gone on.

I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One features a wide variety of genres. Folk, shoegaze, twee-pop, and indie are all incorporated into one album. It�s hard to file this trio under a specific genre because they blend together so many different genres and make it look easy. The album has both gloomy and uplifting moments, the music is always calm and Yo La Tengo usually avoid rocking out. Twangy guitar lines, soothing bass work and melodic drumming are all found throughout the album. Yo La Tengo perfect song crafting and every track runs together smoothly. They have the ability to write an upbeat pop song and then the next track could have a rainy day feel driven by an acoustic. I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One is extremely laid back and dreary, it sounds like something that would be playing at a hotel lobby, or in a hipsters stereo system.

While the whole album is a great example of twee-pop beauty and relaxing folk you can easily pick out the songs that have different influences. The albums opener, Return to Hot Chicken is just an easy going guitar riff over some electric guitar mingling. It has an extremely laid back and atmospheric feel, it almost forces you to kick back and absorb the sound. Right after this comes the six minute, funky pop Moby Octopad. It has a deep, muffled bassline playing over some twinkly electronics. Georgia�s gentle vocal delivery fits in well with the dreamy feel of the song almost creating a psychadelic vibe. This is a perfect example of how Yo La Tengo can fuse genres together so flawlessly, the song has an extremely cool and groovy feel while the bass playing is smooth and relaxed. Sugarcube is the poppiest song off the album and almost sounds like its coming from the Beach Boys. Ira�s poppy and childish voice fits in well with the fuzzy guitar static and catchy drum hook. A brief electric guitar solo comes in and shows that I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One has a ton of range while still being very accessible.

The middle of the album shows a more sinister and dark side of Yo La Tengo. Damage focuses on Geogria�s drum work and atmospheric keyboard effects while the crafty acoustic strums on Shadows go together well with Georgia�s soft, soothing voice. These two songs really are two highlights simply because they are so dreary and dreamy that they almost put you to sleep, Ira�s acoustic fiddling and Georgia�s peaceful voice will make any fan of dream folk go crazy.

I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One also has its fair share of riff based pop songs. The fuzzy riffage of Deeper into Movies immediately moves into a jingly guitar riff, almost giving it a prog-rock feel. The song harnesses the beauty of prog-pop simply because it has such a relaxed feel but the instruments play tense and standard rocking riffs. Stockholm Syndrome is an easy going song propelled by a lazy acoustic riff and Ira�s whimsical, upbeat voice. While this song is extremely simple it still has that ability to make you just kick back and relax. Center of Gravity is a heavily Hawaiian influenced song featuring maraca jingles along with glockenspiels. The atmosphere of the song almost makes you feel like you�re lying on a beach enjoying the tropical sun rays, it has that laid back feel similar to a lot of Sublime songs. Autumn Summer is another lazy folk/pop song that focuses on a simple drum beat and keyboard dynamics. While this tune is simple and easy to play it works extremely well because its easy going pop nature will bring a smile to your face. I�d say it�s another Brian Wilson influenced pop gem. While the poppy songs don�t dominate the album Yo La Tengo create some simple, yet effective twee-pop masterpieces.

Yo La Tengo can write both indie-pop and folk songs but they can also do something else extremely well. They really know how to experiment with different sounds yet nothing seems to get way out of hand. A perfect example of this would be Spec Bebop which is basically a ten minute jam session. Fuzzy guitar distortion, spacey effects, and hard hitting drums, the song almost sounds like something that could be coming from an avant garde band. Ira keeps things from getting tiresome because he is constantly changing rhythms and volume dynamics. We�re An American Band is practically just guitar distortion. Some demon like vocals make their way into the music and suck you into the grunge-ish type mood. While Yo La Tengo don�t do that much experimenting they do just enough to keep your attention.

There is no doubt about it that I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One is not a classic. I like to refer to it as a �hidden gem� simply because it is almost unheard of yet it is musically brilliant. The reason why I�m letting this album off the hook with an easy five star rating is because it will amaze any fan of indie-pop, shoegaze or folk-pop. The music is very laid back and relaxing, it has the ability to make you kick back and get lost in the textured sounds. If you want something mellow, poppy, dreary, gentle, or acoustic driven you can not go wrong with I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Iai
Emeritus
April 25th 2006



3553 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I cant think of any other group that has made their best album after seventeen years of being together.

Pulp. They were together for 17 years before Different Class.

In any case, I like this, but I prefer Summer Sun.

The Jungler
April 25th 2006



4827 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Snap, this was the first Yo La Tengo review? Great job Zebra. Haven't heard too much of this band, but what I did was pretty great.

Zebra
Moderator
April 25th 2006



2647 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Ahhhh, that's true and I never would have guessed that. I've never been a huge Pulp fan in the first place.

I've only heard a few songs from Summer Sun and didn't like it that much. I can't get into any of their stuff after And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out. This Message Edited On 04.25.06

MemoryMachine
April 25th 2006



12 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This album is insanely good. 5/5

asymm
April 25th 2006



18 Comments


Great record and a nice review.

Dimes Make Dollars
April 25th 2006



241 Comments


Don't forget the Flaming Lips; it took them 19 years to release Yoshimi.

Anyway, decent review of a phenomenal album. It's eclectic, the songs are all strong, and it's the second-best production job of all time (next to Talk Talk's Laughing Stock). The peaceful, summer night atmosphere is captured perfectly.

pulseczar
April 25th 2006



2385 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Don't forget the Flaming Lips; it took them 19 years to release Yoshimi.


bahahahahha.
Good work as usual Zebra.

Dimes Make Dollars
April 25th 2006



241 Comments


Not that I consider that their best, but a lot of people do.

AlienEater
April 26th 2006



716 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I prefer their earlier stuff, but this album has some great songs.

Little Man being Erased
April 27th 2006



87 Comments


I've never really been inspired to check out Yo La Tengo before. I guess I'd never really had them described to me all that well. But you have certainly just convinced me to check them out immediately. Well done, Sir, well done.

pulseczar
October 6th 2006



2385 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I love how they use the actual trio sound to get such a unique spin on the songs. I'm gonna check out I'm not Afraid... now.

Eliminator
December 28th 2006



2067 Comments


Such an awesome album.

The Jungler
December 28th 2006



4827 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm listening to this now because I'm Not Afraid was so awesome. This could/probably is better. Yo La Tengo are cool.


br3ad_man
Emeritus
December 28th 2006



2125 Comments


This album is so good. It's their best, and I Am Not Afraid... is probably their second best. It feels like this album's brother.

The Jungler
January 7th 2007



4827 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Mmm, this CD is good, so... calming? I dunno. Its probably a 4.5

AlienEater
January 21st 2007



716 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I just noticed the bad math in this review.

Last I checked 1997 - 1984 doesn't equal 17

Zebra
Moderator
January 21st 2007



2647 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Math was never my strongest subject.

fixed

Doppelganger
February 8th 2007



3124 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I still haven't heard anything by these guys. I guess this is a great place to start. This is a good review, too

samariah
February 8th 2007



109 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

the only song ive heard from his album is autumn sweater. good song.

Jimmy
April 25th 2007



717 Comments


shoegaze? twee-pop?



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