Yo La Tengo


Written by: TL on 26/01/2013 13:50:16

Yo La Tengo are indie rock royalty - Veterans with now thirteen albums to their name.. So me getting into them only here on number thirteen, the recently released "Fade", sort of reveals a weak spot in my should-be encyclopedic band-knowledge, does it not? Ah well, better late than never, and "better" because as "Fade" is evidence of, Yo La Tengo haven't gotten to 10+ albums and widespread underground fame without writing music of a certain impeccable coolness.

With fragile, half-muttered male/female vocals that sounds somewhere between The Moldy Peaches, The Raveonettes and Yuck, Yo La Tengo sing simple enough indie-pop songs on top of layered arrangements that are anything but simple. Take opener "Ohm" as an example, a song about adversity and 'resistance' (see what they did there?), commencing with an eerie electronic effect and a simple beat, only to build layers upon layers of different noises and instruments to the point where the backdrop to the simple vocal melodies is almost cacophonic, and the singing gives way to a trippy guitar solo. It's a buzz that grows over almost seven minutes and sets the tone for an album that is in no hurry to impress anybody, leaving it mostly to the vocals to provide catchyness through laid-back, retro-poppy refrains, while the band experiment with deceptively complex arrangements of sounds underneath them.

Taking their time so confidently and casually is likely a partial reason for Yo La Tengo's appeal, because they manage to be catchy entirely without straining to do so, and without sacrificing anything in terms of experimenting. It's a special balance and only few bands get it perfect (Pavement is one) and truth be told, I do feel like Yo La Tengo suffer in their attempt at it down the stretch of "Fade". The key-word is "stretch", because as hinted already by "Ohm", the actual songs and melodies are frequently outlasted by the band's ambitious experimenting and it makes it hard for the casual listener to keep attention fixed on the album as each number drags on while the band explore some new corner of their sound.

So while a song like the almost She & Him-ish "Is That Enough" is all calming and pleasant to listen to, and while others like "Well You Better" give things a nice bit of energy by increasing the tempo of the beat, each subsequent track feels harder and harder to get into. Simply put, the songs on "Fade" easily do 'fade' into one another, making it an album most suited for those rare times when you have hours ahead of you that are about to pass slowly, and the opportunity to give those a chill soundtrack. Personally I imagine this as the perfect kind of record to listen to while getting a slow weekend morning started, while chatting with someone all half-sleepy on some late night, or while sifting through old photos or possessions. I'm just not so sure a great many of the songs on here will stand out clearly to me come the end of 2013.


Download: Well You Better, Is That Enough
For The Fans Of: Pavement, The Raveonettes, Yuck, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Listen: facebook.com/TheRealYLT

Release Date 15.01.2013
Matador Records

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