September 28, 2006

Yo La Tengo's I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass

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Starting with a track running more than 10 minutes is always a risky move for a band – will the listener get bored just five minutes in and toss away its entire idea in a fit of impatience? Yo La Tengo begs this question with “Pass The Hatchet, I Think I’m Goodkind” on this most recent album – and strangely, it may the best track on their best album yet. Stand-outs in their own right, I Am Not Afraid Of You’s fifteen tracks represent the gamut of musical genres, yet still hang together like the best albums always do.
There’s some sort of energy these veterans have — it’s clear that the group that started with a vague image of their own sound and then worked for years and years on producing it. At least it seems this way when “Hatchet,” which relies on just one chord and one sparse melody never lets up. Maybe it’s Ira Kaplan’s beautifully falsetto, or the way they complete turn-arounds with such variety, or just the psychedelic fuzzy guitars, but the ills of the album’s name hardly reflect the brilliant history underneath.