September 20, 1998
The Portable Galaxie 500
And now...the quietness you can carry....
8 / 10
AND NOW... THE QUIETNESS YOU CAN CARRY. Here, after the comprehensive box set and the Scandinavian live album, is another well-meaning flog of a serene and influential horse: the works of Dean Wareham, Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang. A band who, the fewer chords they struck the more compelling they were.
Their abiding method an infrequent opiated strum, their constant mood a dolorous fringey longing, Galaxie 500 found beauty and sadness walking hand in hand. Like their obvious forebears The Velvet Underground, the music they made from these elements was, however, gloriously out of step, critically applauded but popularly unrecognised. And underwritten with this small tragedy, 'The Portable Galaxie 500' goes to work.
Their quiet might still looms. Not simply in their own material (Wareham's plaintive cries freeze the soul on 'Fourth Of July'; the barely-organised reverberating shuffle of their sound ebbing between rudimentary twangs and thrilling noise), but also - and this is a fine thing - in their cover versions. Galaxie 500 took Jonathan Richman's 'Don't Let Our Youth Go To Waste', and Yoko Ono's 'Listen, The Snow Is Falling' and filled them (frighteningly hollow, exultantly sad), simply, with their sound.
If that sound has a name, it's an ache. And rarely does fragility feel so strong.
To read all our reviews first - days before they appear online - check out NME magazine, on sale every Wednesday