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London South Bank Queen Elizabeth Hall

It's the rule, and exceptions are rare. After bands have been together for longer than about seven albums, time begins to ebb away at their creativity, leaving them merely re-enacting whispers of thei

London South Bank Queen Elizabeth Hall

It's the rule, and exceptions are rare. After bands have been together for longer than about seven albums, time begins to ebb away at their creativity, leaving them merely re-enacting whispers of their past rather than breaking new ground. Tonight, [a]Yo La Tengo[/a] leave no doubt that the rules just don't apply, boldly opening with the final track on their forthcoming 11th and possibly greatest LP, 'And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out', a breathlessly expansive lullaby called 'Night Falls In Hoboken'. It's 17 minutes long.



That song's colossal, distended beauty is only the first movement of a set that finds Ira Kaplan repeatedly pounding his guitar before kicking it across the floor, and ends with a spirited rendition of 'Rock'n'roll Santa'. The venue's rarefied environment could have had a sterilising effect on a less dynamic band but it only brings [a]Yo La Tengo[/a]'s passionate, understated skill into higher relief. When Kaplan's effects pedals fail, he quips, "That's what happens when we play these cheap dives." Funny thing is, it still sounds perfect.



[a]Yo La Tengo[/a]'s magic is in their ability to tap into the pure emotional power of noise, to isolate the alchemy of dissonance and melody. It's in the way drummer Georgia Hubley's willowy vocals intertwine with Kaplan's gentle Lou Reed-esque tones, in the keyboard's resonance with his six-string deconstructions. The new songs are more sombre than the playful groove of 'Autumn Sweater' or the sweet exhalation of 'Deeper Into Movies' - but they are also more poignant. Tonight's most startling example is 'Our Way To Fall', a hesitant swoon of kitten-pawed percussion and Kaplan's half-spoken musings on recapturing the lost thrill of blossoming love. [a]Yo La Tengo[/a] haven't lost a thing. Rather than a moribund artefact of US art-rock, they remain a source of constant, quiet revelation.

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