Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Album review: YO LA TENGO - Fade

Highlights: Ohm, It’s Not Enough, Well You Better, The Point Of It

It’s rather fascinating to realise that Yo La Tengo have been this quiet, but important and intriguing force in indie pop music for two decades now (technically, though, it will soon be three; while I’m not really dismissing their first few albums, it all really started to click with Painful). Since 1993 they have released a string of slow-burning, long-winded albums that were either inspired (and pretty) or, frankly, rather boring (yet pretty). Mostly both.

And I’d say that Fade fits in nicely with their best efforts. This time it is not just about laidback, self-consciously pretty grooves that are okay while they last but do not leave that much of an impression afterwards. Fade is about songs and, dare I say it, songs that can turn out to be quite catchy on occasion. The opening “Ohm” is a noisy and effective 7-minute singalong that, in essence, is your ultimate Yo La Tengo experience. However, I was particularly impressed with the three songs that follow – all three prove yet again that Yo La Tengo can pen a great little pop gem if they feel like it.

As ever, they try different things, from sunshine pop to shoegaze to dream pop to country, but it’s not like Fade is a very diverse record. It never feels that way: the sound is all soaked through with the old lazy summer vibes Yo La Tengo can do so well. Whether it’s garagey guitars or sweeping orchestration or just plain, good old strumming.

Granted, at some points Fade could bore one to tears, but that’s if you don’t pay attention. In a way, it really is as sharp and articulate as these guys get. Overall, this is sweet sweet music to immerse yourself into when the mood is right. Great stuff.


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