Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Hoboken's Yo La Tengo is your basic scenester band. Created by rock journalist and rock-club DJ Ira Kaplan on guitar and his animator wife, Georgia Hubley, on drums, its vocals verge on the murmured even when things get loud, which doesn't do much for the lyrics. And while Kaplan concocts some irresistible riffs, he's never worked at being consistent about it. But Electro-Pura (Matador) is the kind of art project scenes are for--only bohemian layabouts would wallow so shamelessly in gorgeous guitar sound. Exploiting every tunelet, dissonance, and shard of feedback for a pained lyricism that speaks worlds about how much they love their record collection, Kaplan and Hubley make beautiful music together. Anyone given to contemplating chaos in tranquility will understand.

I assume nobody out there still thinks disco died. Like rock itself, it evolved or mutated--into house and techno, pop funk and hip hop. Which makes Germany's Real McCoy and Britain's M People not revivalists but neoclassicists, devoted to the very '70s craft of fashioning tuneful music with a steady dance beat. What's most impressive about both aggregations is how regularly they succeed--where '70s disco was about great singles, their albums almost never falter. M People's Bizarre Fruit (Epic) is a strong follow-up featuring shouter Heather Small that's guaranteed to satisfy anyone who opened up to 1994's Elegant Slumming. Expertly hooked by beatmaster Olaf Jeglitza for the soft-sung Patricia Peterson and Vanessa Mason, Real McCoy's Another Night (Arista) is more pop, less stridently soulful. Well-rounded fun-seekers will seek out both.

Playboy, June 1995

May 1995 July 1995