Adrian Cooper has been unwell

Old reviews that are no longer available online, or from sites that no longer exist. The pen is dead, long live the camera.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Yo La Tengo
'Summer Sun'

You always remember the good summers, and you always seem to look forward to the next, hoping that it will be as good as the summers past that you still hold so dear. Which just means that you leave yourself wide open to disappointment when they don’t live up to your hopes and expectations. Yo La Tengo albums are a bit like summer. It doesn’t seem to matter how good and nice and pleasant each album is, somehow it always pales into insignificance when compared to their 1997 classic, “I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One”. I wish it wasn’t this way but every time I listen to “Summer Sun”, I find myself yearning for “I Can Feel The Heart…”. What makes this even worse is that ”I Can Feel The Heart…” isn’t even the direct predecessor to this record; it’s the one before the one before.

I had problems last time round, with “And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out”. But I had hoped that it would be different this time. A late contender for last year’s single of the year, Yo La Tengo’s cover of Sun Ra’s “Nuclear War” was little short of solar-fried genius. I got my hopes up again, and once more I find them brutally smashed asunder.

“Little Eyes” and “Season Of The Shark” hint at what once was, but “Summer Sun” never seems to deliver what it, albeit briefly, promises. The album is too gentle throughout: where there used to be squalling guitars in between the moments of calm, now there’s just more mild whimsy.

I don’t want to sound greedy, but there’s an imbalance in this relationship. In the past, they’ve given me genius and I’ve reciprocated with my love but it feels like I’m the only one willing to make the effort. Six years ago I was in love with Yo La Tengo, but now it looks like I have a hard decision to make. It’s time to take a step back and try to just be friends, you see, they just don’t seem able to touch me the way in which they used to.