The Brow Horn Orchestra
Date of release:Buy Digital
Yo La Tengo
Fade, a typically elegiac affair from Hoboken indie legends Yo La Tengo, their 13th studio album and first since 2009’s scattered Popular Songs. It’s a hazy and relatively cohesive collection, all gently jangling guitars, hushed vocals and restrained drumming, but still showcases that distinctive flair and ear for a hook, which characterises their inimitable canon. Essentially it’s the innate chemistry between the trio of vocalists and songwriters – Ira Kaplan (guitar/piano), his wife Georgia Hubley (drums/piano) and James McNew (bass) – that makes them so consistently special, and that shows no sign of abating on Fade.
John McEntire (of Tortoise fame) takes the production helm, and while it all sounds resoundingly pleasant he basically seems happy to leave them to their own devices. Some of Yo La Tengo’s past long-players have been sprawling and eclectic, but Fade finds them at their most even and succinct, their shortest effort in over 20 years. It’s still chock full of great fare – shuffling opener Ohm, the divine Stupid Things, the charming acoustic-based I’ll Be Around and rousing closer Before We Run will all make fine additions to future setlists – but Fade seems best listened to in its entirety, the songs all intrinsically linked both sonically and thematically. It’s an album to let wash over you and luxuriate in rather than pick apart and analyse its components; a rare commodity in this age of reduced attention spans.
The world of Yo La Tengo may have long ago been consigned to the realm of ‘music by music geeks for music geeks’, but judging by the continued quality of Fade there’s plenty of life in this old indie dog yet.
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