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Yo La Tengo 1995 Michael Lavine

Yo La Tengo announce 25th anniversary Electr-o-pura reissue with Lucy Dacus cover of "Tom Courtenay"

30 April 2020, 15:01 | Written by Cerys Kenneally

Yo La Tengo have announced a 25th anniversary reissue of their 1995 album Electr-o-pura, which arrives with a cover of "Tom Courtenay" by Lucy Dacus.

As part of Matador’s Revisionist History series, Yo La Tengo will be reissuing their Electr-o-pura album, which will follow on from Guided by Voices and Pavement reissues.

The reissue is announced alongside a cover of "Tom Courtenay" by Lucy Dacus, who was born on the day Electr-o-pura was released.

In her essay about the significance of the album, Dacus writes, "I remember my confusion upon listening to Electr-o-pura for the first time. I referenced the tracklist on the back of the CD so I could learn titles, but the printed song durations didn’t match up to what I was hearing. I wondered if there was some manufacturing error and I wasn’t hearing the songs I was supposed to hear. "Flying Lesson (Hot Chicken #1)" is listed as lasting just over three minutes when it’s actually 6:42. "Blue Line Swinger" says it’s 3:15, but actually clocks in at 9:18. I know now from looking into it that Yo La Tengo intentionally misprinted the times, trying to combat short attention spans, hoping they would trick people into giving those long songs a chance. It tricked me, though I’m a sucker for long songs anyways. It’s interesting to think about how this move couldn’t be pulled today in a world of digitized music. And if people had short attention spans then, how short are they now? All to say, I liked that they were playful."

Dacus adds, "What kept me coming back to Yo La Tengo was their understanding of moods. I listened to bands that knew anger, bands that knew sadness, but I didn’t know of any other bands that could express a full life’s range of moods the way they can. From song to song, the music was anxious, celebratory, sorrowful, content, confused, etc. And even when they got loud or dissonant, it never felt hostile. The sounds could be harsh, even ugly, but they were joyful. Some songs could make me cry, but they were gentle, not malevolent. I was taking on someone else’s tastes, and in the process, discovering my own.

""Tom Courtenay" was the first Yo La Tengo song I learned on guitar. I didn’t know what it meant, but I knew who Julie Christie was and loved the line, "As the music swells somehow stronger from adversity / our hero finds his inner peace." I didn’t know what the needle had to do with anything, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It was like any good poem, leaving space for me, between images. Now, I think the song may be about obsession with media, equating the allure of the movies and movie stars to drug addiction. Who knows, that’s just my take."

Wrapping up her statement, Dacus writes, "Eventually when Matador asked to sign me, the fact that Yo La Tengo is on their roster was a major component of my decision. They’ve been putting out great albums every couple of years for over three decades, experimenting and exploring with what seems to be an uncompromised creativity. That is worth celebrating, especially now, when any opportunity for celebration is a blessing. Happy 25th birthday to Electr-o-pura, and thanks for the music, Yo La Tengo."

Yo La Tengo's 25th anniversary reissue of Electr-o-pura arrives via Matador on 4 September, and is available to pre-order now.
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