Album Reviews

Yo La Tengo – Stuff Like That There – Album Review

Yo La Tengo

Yo La Tengo – Stuff Like That There – Album Review by Killian Laher

Yo La Tengo are an American institution at this stage. Stuff Like That There is I believe their fourteenth album (excluding compilations etc) and it’s a kind of mush mash made up of cover versions, new originals and some re-recorded tracks. If you’re a fan of Ira Kaplan’s guitar workouts you’ll be disappointed – they’re absent here. The album has very much a stripped down feel, all plucked upright bass, brushed drums and shimmery guitar. The originals work best here, Rickety is a classic Kaplan and Georgia Hubley duet, while later Awhileaway is one of the softest things they’ve ever recorded, Kaplan sounding almost like Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner on this porch strum.

The re-records produce interesting results: All Your Secrets is altered little from the original (perhaps as a more recent song has had less time to evolve). The Ballad of Red Buckets backs away from the Sonic Youth-isms of the original, recast here as a stripped down country shuffle, and it works almost as well. The noisefest of old, Deeper Into Movies takes on an older, wiser feel as a shadowy strum, with some fine, restrained guitar work from Kaplan.

It’s when Hubley’s ghostly vocals take centre stage that the album fares less well. Hank Williams’ I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry aims for the hazy majesty of the Cowboy Junkies’ version but doesn’t quite achieve it. Later the Parliaments’ I Can Feel The Ice Melting is far too “lounge” to avoid cheesiness.

However her version of the Cure’s Friday I’m In Love succeeds, taking an almost hackneyed original and reinventing it as a shy, diffident lazy shuffle, and Kaplan does a wonderfully sparse, almost whispered Before We Stopped To Think (written by Great Plains). Their duet on Special Pillow’s Automatic Doom has an easy, relaxed charm. The spooky Naples is like the aural equivalent of a cool, yet cosy blanket. So an interesting experiment with a particular sound. May they be content with this, rather than plan a future direction, as those noisy guitars are sorely missed.

Members – Georgia Hubley (Drums), Ira Kaplan (Guitar) & James McNew (Bass)

Tracklist –

1. My Heart’s Not In It
2. Rickety
3. I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry
4. All Your Secrets
5. The Ballad of Red Buckets
6. Friday I’m In Love
7. Before We Stopped To Think
8. Butchie’s Tune
9. Automatic Doom
10. Awhileaway
11. I Can Feel The Ice Melting
12. Naples
13. Deeper Into Movies
14. Somebody’s In Love

Friday I’m In Love: Yo La Tengo – “Friday I’m In Love” Official Video

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