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Bacharach falls into My Bloody Valentine in "Sugarcube," which offers the recording's first rave-up and its first usable tag lines. "Whatever you want from me/Whatever you want I'll do: Try to squeeze a drop of blood/From a sugarcube," Kaplan sings to Hubley, creating a sweetly vague metaphor for the challenge of making marriage work.
And for a while, it doesn't. On "Damage," domesticity gets dangerously dull ("I hope I mumbled your name as you walked out the door," Kaplan sings).
"Shadows" sees Hubley flee for safety in darkness. And then there's "Autumn Sweater," a centerpiece if ever there was one, rooted in Hubley's (funky!) drum part and Kaplan's church organ. "We could slip away," Kaplan mumbles, "wouldn't that be better." He's gonna have an affair, but he can't. "It's a waste of time," he sings as Hubley's beat reminds him where his heart belongs.
Emotional lift comes in the form of a cover of the Beach Boys' "Little Honda," a fairly obvious choice for the band that once covered Daniel Johnston, and a reassuring letup after the melodrama of "Autumn Sweater."
The rest of the recording reinterprets the vibe. In "Green Arrow," Kaplan's guitar restfully evokes wide-open spaces as crickets chirp in the background. In "One PM Again," Kaplan whispers, "Let's not make any sudden movements."
Then Hubley explains it all. First with the '60s lounge-pop of the undeniably cute "Center of Gravity," in which she and Kaplan take a walk just so she can explain love in a math metaphor, "It's clear to me/According to a rule I learned one day in school/Basic geometry." Then after two boring guitar-wank returns, the conceit gets idyllic with a beautifully simple cover of Anita Bryant's 1960 hit "Our Little Corner of the World." It sounds as if Hubley's inviting Kaplan, but in truth he's already there: Hubley's inviting us now. "We always knew we'd find someone like you," she sings, "so welcome/To our little corner of the world."
It may have taken 10 years to tidy it up, but that little corner is a wonderful place to be.
Yo La Tengo is scheduled to perform on Tuesday, September 2, at Nita's Hideaway in Tempe, with the Les Payne Product. Showtime is 9 p.m.