Search - Yo La Tengo :: Electr-O-Pura

Yo La Tengo
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
  •  Track Listings (14) - Disc #1

Around the time Electr-o-pura came out in 1995, American music critics were starting to recognize Yo La Tengo as a standout band. The Hoboken, New Jersey, trio lived up to that newfound billing on this release, fully reali...  more »


CD Details

All Artists: Yo La Tengo
Title: Electr-O-Pura
Members Wishing: 3
Total Copies: 0
Label: Atlantic / Wea
Release Date: 5/2/1995
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
Styles: Indie & Lo-Fi, American Alternative
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 744861013228, 075679255020, 075679255044, 724384046620

Synopsis essential recording
Around the time Electr-o-pura came out in 1995, American music critics were starting to recognize Yo La Tengo as a standout band. The Hoboken, New Jersey, trio lived up to that newfound billing on this release, fully realizing the fruits of what they had started on Painful. It was there that Yo La stopped thinking of themselves as a three-piece band with guitar, bass, drums, and the occasional keyboards, instead opening up walls of sound, patterns upon patterns over which Ira Kaplan's guitar soars, dives, and spirals. It's amazing that a great pop song ("Tom Courtenay"); a lopey, sleepy ballad ("Pablo and Andrea"); a droney, open-ended jam ("Blue Line Swinger," with which the band closed its shows for years); and a couple of out-and-out freak-outs could all coexist so naturally. Though there are bands that have mastered each one of those aspects better than Yo La had at this point, not one could combine them into one work as sublime as Electr-o-pura. --Randy Silver

Similarly Requested CDs


CD Reviews

Drop out for an hour...or five
Wheelchair Assassin | The Great Concavity | 02/15/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"While some albums can grab you and beat you over the head with their brilliance upon first listen, others take more time to appreciate, slowly revealing new details with each listen until you're fully able to grasp their entirety. "Electr-O-Pura," however, is that rare album that manages to do both. The day after getting this album I played it five times in a row straight through, and I've only become more addicted to it since. To say it's like a drug would probably be an understatement: I doubt there's a drug out there with a pull this strong. I thought Sonic Youth were the masters of the guitar-driven noise-rock soundscape, but until you've heard Yo La Tengo you don't know the half of it. The array of mind-bending guitar sounds that Ira Kaplan creates is nothing short of staggering, but his endless creativity and dizzying technical proficiency are only the beginning of what makes this such a great album. "Electr-O-Pura" is more about texture than anything else, as guitars, voices, and rhythm section intertwine, all the sounds dancing around each other without any ever achieving supremacy. Instead, the elements all coalesce to form some of the most sublime, fascinating sounds that a rock band has ever produced. I know I may not be doing the best job of describing it, but one listen to the jaw-dropping "The Ballad Of Red Buckets" should nicely illustrate what I mean. It's not necessarily the album's best song (more on that later), but I do feel it best exemplifies its overall sound. If that makes sense. What's perhaps most amazing about this album is that while the songs all hang together in a coherent whole, most of them are simultaneously able to establish their own identities, as Yo La Tengo experiment wildly without ever abandoning their song-oriented approach. The result is a batch of tunes that are readily accessible, instantly memorable and enduring in their appeal.There are so many classics here it's a daunting task to list them all, but here goes nothing. "Decora" is transcendent in its utter gorgeousness, as Georgia Hubley's ethereal vocals float over a vast expanse of shimmering guitar noise. The following "Flying Lesson (Hot Chicken #1)," by contrast, is darker and harder-edged, with Ira Kaplan's vocals an ominous whisper and the guitars much sparser, at least until the two prolonged freakouts towards the end. Between them, the two songs present a study in the dichotomy between light and dark that would do King Crimson proud. The forceful, up-tempo "Tom Courtenay" is probably the catchiest offering here, propelled by a head-bobbing hook and some dense, almost metallic riffage. "Paul Is Dead" is a quietly minimal piece, but the "Ooh-Ooh-Ooh's" in the background make it downright mesmerizing. "False Alarm" is a major curveball, imbuing the album's typical noise-rock inclinations with a dirty, bluesy sound complete with organs and distorted, swaggering vocals. "(Straight Down to the) Bitter End" is fast and furious, with snatches of electrifying guitar distortion scratching at the surface as the drums thump along heavily in the background. "My Heart's Reflection" is a woozy, swooning piece whose slow pace and mellow tone only partly conceal its powerful psychotropic properties. But wait, there's more! Not content just to warp your mind with towering guitar-led onslaughts, the band also go the guiet route with the stripped-down "The Hour Grows Late" and "Don't Say a Word (Hot Chicken #2), which consist of little more than acoustic guitar, hushed vocals, and a smattering of keys. The energy of the album is somewhat muted on these songs to be sure, but it's certainly not absent. In my humble opinion, though, Yo La Tengo saved the best of "Electr-O-Pura" for last in the form of the nine-minute "Blue Line Swinger," which has quickly become one of my favorite tunes of all time. "Blue Line Swinger" is a frightening juggernaut of a song, starting slowly before building steadily into an epic freakout of earth-shaking proportions. And it only becomes more stunning when Georgia's vocals enter the fray, her childlike innocence serving as the perfect foil for the sonic chaos going on all around her. I listen to tons of different music, and I must say that I've heard few albums that can boast as broad an appeal as "Electr-O-Pura." Rarely can a band combine a flair for the the esoteric with such flawless pop instincts, but Yo La Tengo pull off the trick with ease. It's unfortunate that marvels of craftsmanship like this one don't come along too often, but I guess that fact just means we should appreciate them more."
Still my favorite YLT Album
Shawn St John | Houston, TX | 01/20/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"As each subsequent YLT album has come out, I have, for a short time, wondered if it would replace "Electr-O-Pura" as my favorite album in the world (that's ALBUM, not just YLT album). "I Can Hear the Heart..." came close for a month or two. "And then nothing..." came closer. It spent months in my CD player without being interrupted by anything else. But something about the album was too perfect, too careful. Going backwards, "Painful", while not as perfect an ALBUM experience, has some individual tracks that offer the most sublime garage pop experiences to be found (although "Pablo and Andrea", "Tom Courtenay" and "Blue Line Swinger" go beyond anything the band attempted on that album), and perhaps make Painful a little more FUN to listen to.

One day, though, after the glow of these other releases had worn off, I put my old friend "Electro" back on the CD player, and instantly, a smile came to my face. This was the pinnacle. While not as high-reaching or sonically conceptual as "And Then Nothing..." (or, arguably, even "Summer Sun"), and not as brashly fun or catchy as many prior efforts, "Electro" was made at that perfect point in YLT's career when everything came together in perfect balance, when they were confident enough and musically/lyrically accomplished enough to brashly go beyond anything Indie rock had ever produced, but naive enough to not let themselves be reigned in by conceptual restraints or pop perfectionism. Don't get me wrong. I admire subsequent releases for their attributes just as much as (in some ways more so than) this album. They have a grander vision, more experimentation, more musical and lyrical experience and skill behind them.

Don't get me wrong about this album, either. This is a cohesive album, not a collection of random songs, and it's made by very talented people. But everything teeters perfectly on balance, threatening to topple at any moment, but never doing so. The band is stretching here, grasping for new heights, just beginning to realize the power they really posses. Lyrics are a meeting of old YLT with new YLT-- the excitingly abstract and obtuse meet with a new-found emotional depth and warmness, along with a small hint of the personal revelations that followed in later releases. Musically, the album may be the most narrow of all YLT releases (which is not saying much when you consider how all over the map YLT is--most of the people I know who cannot get into them say it's because the band cannot seem to pick a style), with less range stylistically and sonically than other albums, especially later ones. There are no covers, there are no country songs, no bossa nova pop symphonies, no jazz piano noodlings. The music comes primarily from the indie rock world, and uses its aesthetics as a starting point, but masters and exceeds the form, going beyond mere attitude and noise and lo-fi production values to create a beautiful, cohesive, lasting work that really means something. The operative word is "balance." Balance between intellect and emotion. Between skill and attitude. Between beauty and ugliness. Between the fun and the serious. There's just the right mix of the planned, the honed and the refined, with the chaos, the noise and the mistakes-a perfect mess. A beautiful noise. Absolutely human.

Every track is integral to the album. For those who think "False Alarm" is a clinker, you will change your mind after you see it played live, and will suddenly find it to be one of the most exciting songs on the disc. Even "Attack on Love" is absolutely necessary. It sounds like the musical equivalent of an abstract expressionist painting to me, and it serves as a sort of moment of release before we launch into the epic finale that is "Blue Line Swinger".

I never tire of this album. And I never press the skip button. I cannot always say that for "..Feel the Heart..." or "Summer Sun", which, while perhaps more accomplished works, do not always grab me as tightly. And the weight and length of "And then Nothing...", while perhaps a more important work, is sometimes just too much for me. Making "Electr-O-Pura", well...perfect. Perfect because it has just the right amount of imperfection."
Curiously underrated
Shawn St John | 09/21/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Falling in between two of the most acclaimed Yo La Tengo albums ("Painful" and "I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One"), "Electr-O-Pura" is a bit of an orphan in the group's catalog, which I've always found difficult to understand. Why was the world ready for "I Can Hear..." (which if anything, sounds like a tamer, less interesting version of this album) but not "Electr-O-Pura"?I often hear "harsh" and "inconsistent" used as adjectives to describe "Electr-O-Pura." However, those are givens with YLT; "Fakebook" is the only album they've made that didn't jump all over the place, sometimes in ear-breaking ways. What "Electr-O-Pura" really offers is a sprawling tour of everything YLT can do, delivered with finesse and confidence. The album is overflowing with ideas and (usually) nonindulgent experimentation.First, the quieter stuff: There's nothing on "I Can Hear..." as beautiful and perfect as the shimmering, exquisite "Pablo and Andrea," quite possibly the group's finest song, with Georgia Hubley's warmest, most seductive vocals ("I'll cover for you like a slipcover covers a chair"). Plus, Ira Kaplan's soaring guitar solo never fails to deliver goosebumps. An absolute masterpiece. "Don't Say a Word," "The Hour Grows Late," "My Heart's Reflection," and "Ballad of Red Buckets" are other (mostly) quiet, gorgeous songs.Noise rears its sometimes ugly head throughout the album, with the (fortunately) short skronk piece "Attack on Love" being the worst offender. Also, Ira sprays his trademarked (actually, more like his take on Lou Reed's trademark) feedback and twisted solos throughout the album, but usually in restrained doses. However, one noisy experiment falls flat: "False Alarm" is a bit of a chore to sit through; its distorted organ and vocals mangle what could have been an interesting song.Two of the best tracks combine classic YLT beauty with discordance. "Decora" and "Blue Line Swinger" are attractive Georgia-sung pieces that challenge listeners with their almost backward constructions and phased instrumental loops. Some people can't hear these songs past the odd structures, unfortunately. (It helps to be attuned to stuff like My Bloody Valentine, a palpable influence throughout this album.) Georgia's drumming is quite astounding on both of these tracks. At this point, it needs to be said that she is one of the finest drummers in rock--economical, creative, and powerful, with a dynamic right foot (listen to her swinging backbeat on tracks like "Tom Courtenay" and "Flying Lesson").And speaking of that last track, it's the most curiously intense and spooky thing the group has recorded. On top of Georgia's driving beat, Ira talk-sings about romantic obsession with stalker-like menace, punctuating it with increasingly discordant blasts of guitar that get downright queasy and blood-curdling by the end. A long, tense, exhilarating track perfect for paranoid night driving on long stretches of open road. In fact, the whole album is a magnificent soundtrack for a long car trip.Don't let the (deserved) acclaim for "Painful" and "I Can Hear..." cause you to miss this extraordinary showcase of Yo La Tengo's world. It's an overlooked classic, an arguably the group's definitive album."