And now I will confirm Sean’s theory that I gravitate towards music from the ’80s and ’90s by reviewing the latest Yo La Tengo record. This band’s kind of an odd case in the world of indie rock, a genre that seems to be enamored with the latest scene and subgenre, while few bands seem to stick around for the long haul. And yet Yo La Tengo are now in their fourth decade of existence and have somehow managed to remain fairly relevant after many of their peers have burned out or faded into complete obscurity. And like most albums by middle aged rock bands, Fade is far from a revelation, but it’s filled with a kind of wistful quality that finds the band at ease with their place as indie elder statesman.
Despite my respect for Yo La Tengo, I think I’ve come to appreciate them more a “singles band” than one who’s albums I’ve spent a ton of time with. As a lot of their albums are a bit too meandering, but I’ll be damned if tracks like “Autumn Sweater” or “Our Way To Fall” don’t rank for me among the most endearing love songs in recent memory. So I suppose that explains why this album’s lead-off track “Ohm” is a song that I am thoroughly all about, while I’m just fine with the rest of the album.
I suppose the kind of Yo La Tengo that resonates with me are the hazy jams the culminated in 1993’s Painful (my favorite Yo La Tengo record), and there isn’t as much of that here. On Fade we get a more subdued version of the band which has definitely come to the forefront with these last few albums. Still, it’s hard to complain when most of the songs are pretty in that kind of fragile way that only Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley can deliver in a poppy indie ballad. One thing that kind of elevates Fade for me in regards to the last few Yo La Tengo records is it’s brevity, as most of their recent albums seem to feature at least a song or two that breaches the ten minute mark and usually clocks in at over an hour. Fade on the other hand clocks in at a lean 45 minutes, and sees these guys continuing to hone their knack for crafting make-out music for awkward hipsters.
Favorite Tracks: “Ohm”, “Well You Better”, “Stupid Things”