was really disappointed by Yo La Tengo’s Summer sun last spring
because, despite good moments, it sounds like a compilation of b-sides. Its
overall peaceful atmosphere tends to get boring. On the contrary, this 6 songs
ep is fine. The band doesn’t explore here its idiosyncratic way of playing
jazz which is amusing at best (‘Nuclear war’, ‘Georgia vs YLT’).
stand-out song ‘Today is the day’ was my favourite one on the
above-mentioned album in which it is clearly a voiced sequel to the instrumental
‘Green Arrow’ (from their still astounding I can hear the heart beating
as one), both of them evoking late sultry starlit summer night refreshed by
a pleasant lazy rain which tries to make up for its being late. Yo La Tengo
offers here a lovely catchy electric version of it which discards the romantic
atmosphere but treasures the original melodies and surrounds them with alluring
the sluggish contents of Summer Sun, this ep could almost be taken as a
return to greasy guitars. The three first songs seem to build up intensity and
to refer to Yo La Tengo’s particular slack indie-pop shoegaze style (‘From a
motel 6’, ‘We’re an American band’). ‘Styles of the times’ and
‘Outsmartener’ even strongly evoke The Velvet Underground, the first
one mainly thanks to casual vocals and the second one thanks to noisy
arrangements. ‘Outsmartener’ is also nicely conspicuous for its chorus close
to Batman’s theme and its completely charming entwined male-female vocal
delivery (somehow recalling Stereolab).
ep ends with three nice quiet songs. ‘Needle of Death’ is a pleasant hushed
cover of Bert Jansch that towers above the original. ‘Dr Crash’ is an
inoffensive instrumental track and ‘Cherry Chapstick’ is better than on And
Then Nothing… even though the version is similar??? It might be because it
doesn’t suffer from being stuck in the middle of other long tracks. It is
easier to make a good ep than a good album… Anyway, this time Hoboken rules.
‘Green Arrow’ WOOd.
except for ‘Cherry Chapstick’, YLT’s previous full length was soothing but
it did not seem stuck in sluggishness and did not need a change of scenery like
this one that becomes dull because there is not a single song which builds up
intensity at some point, which is frustrating since we know they can do it in a
very slack personal way (‘We’re an American band’).
/jan 15th 2004/