Yo La Tengo - Painful LP

(Matador Records, 1993)


Despite Yo La Tengo’s towering legacy in the indie-rock world, 1993’s Painful remains one of their finest moments, and is a major turning point in the band’s career. The first Yo La Tengo album to feature their now core lineup of Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley, and James McNew, Painful pulls together many of the band’s disparate influences, from folk to experimental sounds, and shoegaze to sprawling psychedelia.

The defining characteristic, and possibly the secret to Yo La Tengo’s enduring appeal, is never more present than it is on Painful. Despite the subdued vocals and often languid tempo and atmosphere, Yo La Tengo sound like a group of friends having the time of their lives, playing music for the pure joy of it.