Recording information: Alex The Great Studios, Nashville, TN.
Listeners may look back on ELECTR-0-PURA someday and say that this 1995 release ushered in the golden age of Yo La Tengo. Countless bands of the mid-'80s didn't last a decade, but these guys just kept getting better in terms of singing, writing, playing, and production. Gorgeous electric guitar permeates this record, especially on the shimmering, smoky opener, "Decora," and the seductive love song "Pablo & Andrea," which is pure guitar heaven, featuring lambent strumming, some nifty slide work, and a full-on blaring solo. Both of these numbers, incidentally, feature the solo vocals of Georgia Hubley, whose wonderfully unaffected singing is both poignant and stirring.
The first single, "Tom Courtnay" jumps out of the speakers with its wonderful opening line: "Julie Christie/the rumors are true." Named after the classic British film actor, the song features strong hooks and some of the most melodic singing Kaplan has ever done. He sounds nothing like Lou Reed anymore. The band still indulges their love for feedback and distortion on "My Heart's Reflection" but they wrap the noise in warm harmonies and insistent melodies (except on the pure-noise "Attack on Love"). A sheer delight, and good place to start for the uninitiated.
Spin (12/95, p.62) - Ranked #11 on Spin's list of the `20 Best Albums Of '95.'
Spin (6/95, p.100) - 9 - Near Perfect - "...Yo La Tengo...help the literal-minded listener to focus on texture and groove, the splatter of Ira Kaplan's guitar against the pull and flow of Georgia Hubley's drums....ELECTR-O-PURA juxtaposes the intimacies of culture..."
Q (7/95, p.133) - 3 Stars - Good - "...an album of uneasy contrasts and occasional brilliance which remains strangely remote and difficult to grasp."
Alternative Press (8/95, p.103) - "...alternate[s] between heavy art-school distortion fuzz and laid-back Sunday afternoon drizzle. They do both so well that it doesn't really matter which you prefer; if you're willing, either will sweep you up and take you someplace nice....ELECTR-O-PURA is filled with fine songs and beautiful sounds. It's an album worth every second you listen to it."
Option (9-10/95, p.146) - "...The balance of ELECTR-O-PURA is consistently outstanding, bridging the gap between tenacious and gutsy, with Yo La Tengo's modestly intuitive singing and facile playing..."
Melody Maker (4/22/95, p.35) - Recommended - "...the band's seventh collection of wayward pop masterpieces....ELECTR-O-PURA deliberately trawls through the shadier corners of the guitar multiverse, opting without fail for the moments where layers of fuzz create a black hole of sound..."
Village Voice (2/20/96) - Ranked #9 in Village Voice's 1995 Pazz & Jop Critics' Poll.