Yo La Tengo – And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist (part 5)

It’s not always easy to hear the lyrics in Yo La Tengo songs, and you’re not often left feeling good when you discern them. On this album in particular, as well as on I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One, the conclusion that there is much amiss in the marriage between Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley is easily, though perhaps inaccurately, drawn. These are just songs, of course. Who knows from whence they sprang or why. But still . . .

What I Think of This Album

Yo La Tengo gets ambient, bitches. For the most part, this is a subdued, gentle blanket of an album, including the 17 minute long treatise, “Night Falls on Hoboken.” But even within the hushed tones, there are plenty of surprises. Whether the arrangements were carefully planned or developed organically, they add color and texture to the songs courtesy of shifting drum patterns (some from a machine), other percussion, bass swells, strings, organ, shards of piano, and guitar.

Representing another evolution for the band, I am not sure I would call it essential for the casual listener, though it is a superb album, and any existing fan should definitely check it out; in fact, I am not confident a non-fan would really appreciate it, if this was their introduction to Yo La Tengo.

That said, the album is anything but boring. There is plenty to keep you engaged, whether it is the Georgia Hubley-sung “Let’s Save Tony Orlando’s House” (referencing a Simpsons gag, and invoking a bizarre love triangle of Tony Orlando, Dawn, and Frankie Valli); the excellent feedback-laced, whammy bar workout “Cherry Chapstick,” which is inconsistent with the feel and mood of the rest of the album; the unusual samba cover of “You Can Have It All” (which has “A Fifth of Beethoven” type strings, I swear to God); and the disquieting, Whit Stillman influenced “The Last Days of Disco;” the lyric “And the song says ‘Don’t be lonely’ / It makes me lonely / I hear it and I’m lonely / More and more” is a gut punch every time. In addition, there is the spoken word majesty of the “The Crying of Lot G” (the Pynchon tribute being incomplete insofar as the song is accessible and enjoyable); Hubley’s vocals on the country ballad “Tears Are In Your Eyes;” and the soundscape of “Hoboken.”

The band thanks the Ladybug Transistor and Superchunk’s Mac McCaughan in the liner notes. Roger Moutenot produced again.

The Best Thing About This Album

“Cherry Chapstick.” Reapply liberally. Though the “it makes me lonely” from “Disco” is a veeeeeeerrrrrrrrry close second.

Release Date

February, 2000

The Cover Art

Pretty good. This supernatural photograph is by Gregory Crewdson, a professor at Yale University School of Art, and nicely juxtaposes the mundane reality of suburban/small town living with the otherworldly. The formatting of the band name looks good, as well as the use of very small font for the album title.

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