May I Sing With Me

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March 06, 1992 at 05:00 AM EST

Hoboken, N.J.’s Yo La Tengo may be the most frustrating band in alternative rock. Comprised of the husband-and-wife team of guitarist-singer Ira Kaplan and drummer-singer Georgia Hubley (plus whoever else happens to be around), the group tends to drift into noise-guitar rave-ups even though they have much more to offer. Two years ago they released a gem-like album called Fakebook, a mostly acoustic record of covers that was delicate, funny, and unabashedly human. Their new May I Sing With Me, which finds them plugging electric instruments back in, has moments comparable to Fakebook, like the lovely rocker ”Upside-Down,” driven by cascading guitars and the couple’s warm, interlocking harmonies. Yet the album mainly wallows in the group’s eccentricities: knock-kneed songs that rely more on mantra-like chords than melodies, lyrics obscured by guitar noise, and at one point, nine minutes of migraine-inducing feedback. Maybe next time someone will remember to sneak into the studio and turn off the electricity again. B-

May I Sing With Me

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May I Sing With Me

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