Monday, December 28, 2009

Albums Of The Decade : 7 - Yo La Tengo - I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass (2006)

With their two previous albums, And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out and Summer Sun, Hoboken-based indie legends Yo La Tengo seemed to be settling into a late-career holding pattern of understated, downtempo arrangements and twilit balladry. The electrifying noise-rock freak-outs that made their name seemed to be a thing of the past, and consequently many a critic dismissed them as a band past their best. And then along came I Am Not Afraid of You. As if to back up the titular taunt, the record opened with the blissful rave-up ‘Pass The Hatchet, I Think I’m Goodkind’, which laid down a solid, repetitive groove and allowed Ira Kaplan to shred the living hell out of his guitar for the track’s ten-minute duration. But the true strength of this record is in its eclecticism: it rivals and arguably tops previous highpoint I Can Hear The Heart Beating as One in its sheer range and mastery of styles. There’s a delightful Memphis soul-style workout (‘Mr. Tough’), atmospheric ambience (‘Daphnia’), garage-rock trash (‘Watch Out For Me Ronnie’), and soulful balladry (‘I Feel Like Going Home’), while it’s all topped off by the self-mythologising, noise-soaked closing track ‘The Story of Yo La Tango’, twelve of the most glorious minutes of their considerable career. An outstanding record from one of the all-time greats.

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