The album this song calls home, Painful, marked the beginning of a relationship that continues to this day between Yo La Tengo and the redoubtable Matador label. It's also the first appearance on record of bass player James New and of producer Roger Moutenot, now both fixtures within the humble world of this band, which is fairly enough charged with cult appeal. I am a member of that cult. Even though it was already their sixth album to that point, I hear the band still pulling pieces together, though with this they are very close—it would be the next two albums, Electr-O-Pura and I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One, that witnessed the full flowering. I would still call them their best. Painful, as its title and "Nowhere Near," its exquisite representative here, would indicate, is chiefly an exploration into the textures of doomy glum humor, appending fat moody imposing keyboard chords and layering in feedback in broad, desolate widescreen landscapes, all done intuitive fashion in a suite of songs that is remarkably 2 a.m. alone, no sleep in sight, and the drugs gone. Such overlays at will would go on to become a critical piece of their repertoire but here is where they baked it and took it out of the oven. The basic elements: droning keyboards, mournful twanging guitar, gentle but rough-hewn whisper/mumble harmonies, a certain constancy that endures for the six minutes it lasts, swelling and receding like pounding surf, hypnotic, organic, saturated, fulsome, expansive, and generous, as inevitably it grows steel-gray ocean moods into and out of the circumspect shrieking and caterwauling of all fine shoegaze, to which it connects naturally. This is a pretty good place to go get lost, no matter where you are starting from.