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Yo La Tengo - I Am Not Afraid of You and I WIll Beat Your Ass (Cover Artwork)

Yo La Tengo

Yo La Tengo: I Am Not Afraid of You and I WIll Beat Your AssI Am Not Afraid of You and I WIll Beat Your Ass (2006)
Matador Records

Reviewer Rating: 3.5
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Contributed by: indie_is_better_than_punkindie_is_better_than
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Over the course of the group's 22-year career, Yo La Tengo has endured numerous transformations. Folk, punk, garage rock, shoegazer, electronica -- the band has been through all of these genres and more. On this, their tenth full-length album, the group's members seem to have finally grown tired..
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Over the course of the group's 22-year career, Yo La Tengo has endured numerous transformations. Folk, punk, garage rock, shoegazer, electronica -- the band has been through all of these genres and more.

On this, their tenth full-length album, the group's members seem to have finally grown tired. Rather than dedicating the entire record to one genre, as they often have, they chose to mix it up. The result is a 77-minute bear of an album. From start to finish, it is just plain dense.

The record begins and ends with extended, primarily instrumental jams. Just listening to them is tiring. On the first, "Pass the Hatchet, I Think I'm a Goodkind," a repetitive bass riff sets the tempo while guitarist Ira Kaplan solos randomly and sings unintelligibly for almost 11 minutes.

From there, the mood changes completely for the lite-pop "Beanbag Chair," which is, fittingly, the album's first single. Slow ballad "I Feel Like Going Home" follows, once again altering the mood entirely.

The next five tracks are equally disparate from one to another. The group jumps from jazz to synth-pop to modern indie to alt-county, all with great ease.

This is what makes I Am Not Afraidâ?¦ so difficult to listen to. It plays more like a compilation than an album by one three-piece outfit. It just lacks consistency.

It could be worse, though. Consistency at times is nice, but repetition seldom is. In this age of indie rock, it is much too easy for a band to achieve success with a slew of nearly identical compositions. In that respect, I Am Not Afraid is a breath of fresh air, a welcome change from the norm.

It is in the record's second half that the listener should begin to understand just how refreshing it is. It begins with the brooding instrumental "Daphnia." At nine minutes, the track allows listeners time to fully reflect on the eight tracks before it and prepare for what is to come.

From there, the band picks up where it left off, except now it has the audience's full attention. The five tracks following "Daphnia" lead up to "The Story of Yo La Tengo," the second extended jam. It runs a full minute longer than the opener, but it is much more bearable. Kaplan's audible vocals combined with a bass line that actually changes give the track the sense of direction that "Pass the Hatchetâ?¦" lacks.

The only major failure in the album's closing stretch is "Watch Out for Me Ronnie," which plays like a Buddy Holly cover. It feels incredibly out of place, even on a record with so much variation.

Nevertheless, I Am Not Afraid is a fascinating record that stands out as one of the best in Yo La Tengo's lengthy career. It just takes a few listens to wade through it and come to that conclusion.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
indie_is_better_than_punk (October 10, 2006)

also..the album name comes from a quote from NBA player Tim Thomas. I think he was talking to Stephan Marbury when he said it.

FYI for those of you who commented on the album name.

indie_is_better_than_punk (October 10, 2006)

comment below is mine

Anonymous (October 10, 2006)

"Paragraphs?"

Journalism?

greg0rb (October 10, 2006)

Awesome album. So much ground covered, and all covered well.
-Greg

leifkills (October 10, 2006)

More Yo La Tengo love!

UncleFunkyPants (October 10, 2006)

I've never listened to the band, but "I Am Not Afraid of You and I WIll Beat Your Ass" is probably the best album title ever.

skolarx (October 10, 2006)

hands down the promotional posters for this album are the years best. great album title too actually

200_Bars (October 10, 2006)

Good record, but one of the best of their career? Their previous 3 records are all way, way better.

It's most similar to Fakebook, in its diversity.

someone-yeah (October 10, 2006)

Despite never hearing this band before I am considering buying this album just for it's title

danperrone (October 10, 2006)

good cd but i can't stand the inconsistency and lack of flow

but i suppose that's yo la tengo for ya

youwinalemon (October 10, 2006)

I bought "I Can Feel The Heart Beating As One" about two years ago and was not impressed by it at all, save a few songs.

I bought this a few weeks ago and I love it.

Perhaps I should give "I Can Feel The Heart" another chance.

Anonymous (October 10, 2006)

Paragraphs?

recordtheory (October 10, 2006)

This album is smashing.

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