The long-married Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley apply the principles of bachelorhood to their music: persistence and endurance and abrupt change. On the defiantly eclectic I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass, the couple makes genre-hopping look as easy as Saturday night, as touching as your beloved flipping through your record collection. What about dangerous? Not a chance, unless you take the album title’s implicit threat seriously.
“A restless imagination/But for now I want my feet on the ground,” Hubley whispers on “I Feel Like Going Home,” using the talk-singing that by now is as beyond Moe Tucker androgyne faux-wonder as Cronenberg flick A History of Violence was beyond the 23-years-older Videodrome. This album is a collection of photographs snapped at Budapest and Buenos Aires by your fiftysomething neighbors; they want you to admire their liberalness, their gumption, as they reassure you that they’d nonetheless never dream of leaving Hoboken. (To seal the deal they even bookend the album with a pair of their trademark interminable instrumentals.) But there’s pleasure in Kaplan’s approximation of Gimme Fiction–era Spoon cootchie-coo (“Mr. Tough”), his rediscovery of 12-string guitar skeins (“Song for Mahila”), his commitment to uncovering something irksome about Georgia (“Sometimes I Don’t Get You”). Fortunately, James McNew reminds them that this relationship is a triad. As “Watch Out for Me Ronnie” thrashes through all the appointed paces—a dervish indifferent to its own irrelevance—Yo La Tengo Ltd. bask in the certainty that we know that they know what they’re doing, and not a filigree more.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 12, 2006