THROWBACK THURS: Yo La Tengo – ‘I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One’

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Hoboken trio Yo La Tengo have made it 30 years into their career, and what better way to celebrate than to listen to them a lot and catch them on their 30th Anniversary Tour. Husband-and-wife duo, Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley, along with bassist James McNew, have crafted a fantastic catalog over the last three decades, making it damn hard to choose just one album to highlight for a throwback. Alas, after much deliberation, 1997’s LP I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One seizes the spotlight.

From the instruments used to the genres explored, this is an album that boasts exceptional variety — with shades of the likes of Sonic Youth and Pavement slammed jarringly against lounge and folk. Song to song, the album sounds directionless, but played together, each track acts as respite from one to the other.

Boasting one of the greatest consecutive four tracks of any record, the span from the frenetic “Sugarcube” through the greyed-out “Shadows” is a prime example of YLT deftly executing and balancing the album’s variety of styles. Sandwiching the dulcet “Damage” between the classic trappings of lo-fi and shoegaze in “Sugarcube” and “Deeper into Movies,” each genre feels like a refreshing change of pace. The album continues its trend of experimentation until it concludes, producing some of Yo La Tengo’s best work — among them the calming ache of “Green Arrow,” and “We’re an American Band,” which showcases Ira’s understated but superb guitar work.

What makes this compilation stand out isn’t that YLT can play ten genres on one album, but that its disparate nature evokes a complete picture when viewed as a whole. Listen to it a few times and you’ll be left with a distinct impression of the more salient moments of your formative years. I Can Hear the Heart is replete with all of the hopeful, painful ingredients: the anticipatory excitement that precedes an overdue reunion, the feeling of freedom you can only experience when you’re young, the kind of longing you can feel on a back porch in July, and the sense of accomplishment at having grown up a bit after having felt all those things.

Stream the album in full on Spotify, and check out their remaining tour dates below.

Upcoming YLT Tour Dates:

12.3 – Town Hall, New York
12.4 – Town Hall, New York
12.5 – 9:30 Club, Washington DC
12.6 – Trocadero Theater, Philadelphia

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