Album Review: Yo La Tengo


Yo La Tengo -‘Fade.’ (Matador)

I’ve been waiting for this album, as a fan, and I wasn’t disappointed. See, Yo La Tengo have now been around for decades rather than years, but every album still feels like a big deal. They may not play stadia or appear in gossip magazines, but the number of those in the know continues to grow with each album. This, by the way, is their thirteenth studio album.*

Listening to this for about the second or third time before writing this review, I tried to work out where Yo La Tengo fit in -if they need to – on the musical landscape of the last fifty years or so. Like Sonic Youth and Low -and I think they are musically the missing link between the two bands- they’re out of leftfield, uncompromising and yet a mesmerising act.

There’s not a whole heap of guitar abuse on this album, excpt for the final track ‘Before We Run.’ It’s an album comparable to many that they have produced, though the one that I find myself comparing it to most is 2003’s Summer Sun. That album finished with a faithful but heartfelt cover of Big STar’s ‘Take Care’ and I think there’s something of both Summer Sun‘s Sadness, and the Third/Sister Lovers Big Star album. Most strongly can this be felt on ‘Cornelia and Jane.’

So Yo La Tengo do it again. Like The Fall, always the same, always different. Like Wilco, they are trying to break your heart. And like Yo La Tengo, utterly distinctive and brilliant.

Fade is released on Matador on January 14.

Stream Fade over at Pitchfork.

*depending on who you ask and what you read. I’ve also read that this is their twelfth and their fourteenth, and even as a fan I’m not sure.

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