Yo La Tengo 

Prisoners of Love: A Smattering of Scintillating Senescent Songs 1985-2003

Hoboken's immortal Yo La Tengo is that scarcest of mutts: an unpretentious art band. Thus, a song like "Autumn Sweater" -- on paper, an East Coast snob's dream trainwreck of Lou Reed and Grandmaster Flash -- ends up a new kind of pure-pop love song. It's a familiar achievement on this three-disc set, the first two providing a proper retrospective, the (limited edition) third a takeout bag of rarities. Overall, it's seventeen years' worth of thrift-shop treasures that range from crystalline (the refracted '60s easy-listening nugget "Almost True") to ragged (the Lower East Side fuzz of "Sugarcube"). Throughout, the cozy core married duo of Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley never noodle around with found sounds and feedback for experimentation's sake, but for the good of the song. This is brave music for avants and squares alike.


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