December 14, 2009

albums of the decade (V)

Yo La Tengo - And then nothing turned itself inside-out (Matador, 2000)

Although I'm eager to argue that pop music should be enjoyed communally, I'm afraid that Yo La Tengo's eighth (!) album soon becomes so personal (at least for me) that, whether or not you're alone when it's playing, you're likely to get lost in your feelings. Maybe it's just the uber-tender nature of Yo La Tengo's music. Or maybe this outlook has something to do with my summer back home after my first year of university. This is the album I'd listen to at midnight, as I rode my ten-speed up and down the abandoned streets of Winkler with a cigarette in hand (ah to be young). It was probably the most angst-ridden summer I've ever had. And, luckily, I had the perfect soundtrack. "Saturday" sums it up pretty well: the sparse aesthetic, the drum-machine, the fragile harmonies, the broken piano chords. "I tried to turn away questions, before being asked. . . makes my mind go out of tune."

I'd ride out to the edge of town, to the last of the new housing developments and the new middle school that was under construction. Here, I was far enough from the dull glow of suburban light that I could appreciate the sky's rich indigo. And this is what I'd be listening to. That first line of "Tears are in Your Eyes," "you tell me summer's here...," always hit me pretty hard, but the more traditional YLT track that follows, "Cherry Chapstick," somehow always restored my confidence. And then nothing... is sparse, mellow, and conscientiously arranged. Not only did it make me fall in love with Yo La Tengo; it turned a crappy summer into something a bit more bearable.

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