thu 30/05/2024

CD: Yo La Tengo - Fade | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Yo La Tengo - Fade

CD: Yo La Tengo - Fade

Hoboken's veteran indie-rockers make a record of sweet simplicity

YLT: instagram cover, analogue music

Along with bands like Belle and Sebastian and The Beta Band, Yo La Tengo represent a kind of lo-fi vibe indie-aficionados can get a little smug about. To be found in the section marked “cult", they have been going forever, never broken into the mainstream, and exude an effortless superiority. YLT's cred, however, doesn’t always guarantee a thumbs-up. Not from me anyway. Previously I've gone both ways on them.

It’s hard to argue with Fade, however, their thirteenth studio album. This is, quite simply, a very pretty record. Gone are the unnecessary jazz diversions or rummaging through blues and soul. Fade consists almost entirely of whispered reflections. Ira Kaplan actually only raises his voice twice, once on opener “Ohm” and then again on “Paddle Forward". For the rest of the album he kind of mumbles melodically about the minutiae of metropolitan relationships. His vocals rub shoulders with wife Georgia’s harmonies and it all sits atop a river of deceptively basic drumming, twangy guitars and various dreamy organ noises.

If you know YLT at all you will immediately recognise this kind of Sunday morning sound. What distinguishes this album from others, however, is the distillation of that formula. Comparing Fade with their 2003 album Summer Sun, it's no stretch to say nearly all of the former’s tracks resemble the latter’s best: “Season of the Shark” and “Tiny Birds”. Thankfully too, Kaplan’s spurns the urge to show his ability with loops or samples.  

The best song? It isn’t really that kind of album. The presence of new producer John McEntire may or may not have helped with quality control but the result is a consistently fuzzy piece of music to happily get lost in. After chopping and changing styles for 30 odd years looking for something truly theirs, YLT now realise they had it all along.

Watch the video for Yo La Tengo's latest single "Ohm"

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