Yo La Tengo
Fade is one of the best albums of Yo La Tengo’s very lengthy and surprisingly stable career. Though more down-at-heal than their most heralded releases, there are enough moments here, like the clattering euphoria of closing Before We Run with its stinging string bursts and Georgia Hubley’s sleep-spoken lyrics, to remind you of how great they can be, and are.
Seemingly influenced more by the band’s brace of film scores (Shortbus, Old Joy, Adventureland) than the guitar histrionics that epitomised the band’s last show in Melbourne, there is a delicate and sensitive quality to many of the songs. They only cut loose once here, on the ‘90s-indie rock throwback of Paddle Forward, but it’s a three-minute Pavement-esque burst of brilliance you want to put on repeat. Their peculiar brand of joyous nostalgia is here glowing like an amp valve, yet not even their classic records had the despondency that threads these ten songs together or its bouts of sparseness. More than anything though, there is a richness that still finds room for spontaneity that hasn’t been present since those records. Asking John McEntire to produce seems an obvious but smart choice (breaking a 19-year relationship with Roger Moutenot), and one that keeps the sprawl maintained.
Opener Ohm is YLT at their Velvets-aping finest; all churning chords, spectral harmonies and a percussion-driven rhythm loop. Stupid Things is one of the few songs here that hints at the band fans fell in love with so long ago, and it too reveals hidden complexities on multiple listens. Unlike Superchunk’s critic-uniting blazing return to form in 2011, Fade is more of a humble offering, but one that is richly rewarding.
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