Album: And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out
Artist: Yo La Tengo
Reason Featured: #8 on The Village Voice’s Pazz & Jop Poll for 2000, #4 Album for Pitchfork’s Top Twenty Albums of 2000, #14 Album for NME’s Top Fifty Albums of 2000
My Favorite Songs: Our Way to Fall, You Can Have It All, Cherry Chapstick, From Black to Blue
Their Grades: Rolling Stone (4/5), NME (9/10), Pitchfork (8.1/10), Robert Christgau (B+)
My Grade: 86%
I like to think I can trust my intuition. But sometimes, I know I have to go against my gut. And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out is another record I can add to my list of albums which bored the living shit out of me the first time I listened to them only to reveal their charms more and more with each listen. Since that list includes In Rainbows, Boxer, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Animal Collective’s entire discography and more of my now-favorite records, it’s become something of an intuitive impulse to know which albums I should keep listening to in spite of my initial desire to throw on some song I know all the words to instead.
Like those other albums, this one has a few songs which perked my ears right off the bat, as I’m sure they did and do for others. I knew “You Can Have It All” would go on the first mix CD I make for whoever my next girlfriend ends up being from the first “ba ba ba ba baaaa ba ba” and that “Cherry Chapstick” was as good a YLT rocker as my favorite song of theirs, “Tom Courtenay.” But the slow-paced minimalism of album opener “Everyday” threw me off my groove. Getting your record going with what sounds like a funeral dirge is a risky move and one I’m starting to appreciate more now I’ve sat through the entire service a few times.
Besides “Cherry Chapstick,” all the songs on here sound like the cover would make you think: blue, quiet and haunted by fog and mysterious light. Your eyes need to adjust to that kind of dusk just like your ears need to adjust to this kind of music. Once they do, you start to wonder how you could’ve missed the quiet, shadowy beauty of songs like “Our Way to Fall” or “From Black to Blue.” I’m glad I learned my lesson about not giving up on a record just because it isn’t immediate long before listening to this one. The rewards I’m reaping from repetition and reflection on it are already turning me inside-out with delight. While I’m not ready to say I think all 18 minutes of closing song “Night Falls on Hoboken” are all necessary, I can at least say the whispers before it are sounding a little more clear and comforting.