Yo La Tengo - I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One

17 February, 2012

By Harry Dam


Sometimes it takes a while for good bands to become truly great bands, and for Yo La Tengo ("YLT") it all came together in 1997 with "I Can hear the Heart Beating as One" (or "Heart"), fourteen years after their debut.

There were already flashes of brilliance in 1993's  "Painful" and 1995's "Electropura", but "Heart" is the first time that the band transcends genres so smoothly, blending shoegaze, twee-pop, noise and even tropicalia. Ira Kaplan (guitar) and life partner Georgia Hubley (drums) take turns in the vocals and manage to deliver a number of perfect pop songs, indie anthems and trippy stretch-outs all in one 65+-minute album.

"Sugarcube" and "Stockholm Syndrome" (sung by bassist James McNew) are the instant classics and have deservedly become the absolute crowd-pleasers in YLT concerts, even in year 2012.

The album is introduced in a chilled, soundtrack-ish mood with "Return to Hot Chicken" and "Moby Octopad", which consists of a wonderful cyclical bassline (a reference to the Velvets' "European Son") and blissful lyrics ("Locked in a kiss, Outsiders Cease to Exist").

"Damage" follows indie pop favourite "Sugarcube", revealing wonderful laid back drumwork and backing vocals by Georgia. And then, "Deeper into Movies" is the absolute shogaze avalanche, which would put even My Bloody Valentine to shame.

The unorthodox fusion continues, with Neil Young-ish "Stockholm Syndrome" (great name!) and keyboard-assisted personal favourite "Autumn Sweater". YLT switch flawlessly from beautiful ambient understatements ("Green Arrow") to garage explosions (cover of Beach Boys' "Little Honda") to over the top jam sessions ("Spec Bebop"). The cover of "My Little Corner of the World" is a perfect lyrical conclusion to the album.

YLT may have moved to even better and bigger things after "Heart", however this feels like the first album in which the band feels comfortable enough to allow room for improvisation and redefine its boundaries. It is also my favourite YLT record, as it brings out a wonderful clash between coming of age eclecticism and undying love for adolescent garage rock. Classic!





Primary Genre: Rock

Subgenre: Avant Garde

Release Date: 1997


InfluencesVelvet Underground, Beach Boys, Sun Ra

Like This And You'll Probably Also LikeBuilt to Spill, My Bloody  Valentine, Lambchop, Yuck

Album HighlightsAutumn Sweater, Stockholm Syndrome, Deeper into Movies,  Centre of Gravity









"Great album by a band I only got into a few years ago when I first heard "Today Is The Day", 7.5/10"


 Yo La Tengo



Contributor mini-profile

Harry Dam

Harry Dam

8 Fluffy Reviews
"That second hand living it just won't do"
Mini bio
A sucker for Primaverasound festival, the Guardian, Larry David, Mad Men. Old enough to have seen PJ Harvey in Rodon back in, ahemm, 1995. Martial arts hopeful, kiteboarding trainee, ex-banker, havouza-maker, professional procrastinator.  
Favourite Bands / Artists
Yo La Tengo
My Bloody Valentine
Leonard Cohen
The Magnetic Fields