I recently listened to a Radio 4 programme about Radiohead's Album OK Computer, which came out 25 years ago now. It was excellent, and it's an excellent album, although I couldn't help feeling that it laid it on a bit thick. Radiohead weren't the only ones dealing with such subject matter then, and their restless musical experimentalism, while utterly praiseworthy, is hardly unique. It just stood out rather starkly against the monochrome mediocrity of much of Britpop.
It reminded me that it's also 25 years since the release of Yo La Tengo's classic I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One. I'd just got into the band at the time, and bought the album as soon as it came out, and it remains a great summer album for me because it's so linked to the memory of that particular May and June.
Fans would probably argue as to whether it's their best album (I'd say yes), but it's certainly the best single distillation of their restless experimentalism, ranging as it does from simple bossanova love songs like Center Of Gravity to full-on, 10-minute-plus feedback freakouts like Spec Bebop. In between there are spacious instrumentals such as Green Arrow, grungey blasts like Sugarcube (which boasted this superb video), trip-hop pop songs like Autumn Sweater, and harmony-drenched beauty such as The Lie And How We Told It. And of course, being YLT, there are two excellent covers, a foot to the floor charge through the Beach Boys' Little Honda, and an utterly unironic, straight take on My Little Corner Of The World, originally recorded by Marie Osmond, among others.
You can read YLT bassist James McNew talking about the making of the album here, and there's a 25th anniversary reissue out now, with some bonus tracks.