Persistence + Time = Yo La Tengo
For a band best known for their variety —albums like 1997's I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One and 2009's Popular Songs skipping over styles; the band handling any request under the sun as the house-band of WFMU pledge-drives; one tour infamously finding them spinning a wheel of fortune— Yo La Tengo sure are a model of consistency. 13 'proper' LPs into their long, loved career, and Hoboken's Finest have yet to turn in a bad album, yet to make a questionable reinvention, and, most impressively, yet to make their fans yearn for the glory-days of the distant past. With Yo La Tengo, each new record brings with it the promise of yet more glory-days, lurking within.
And Fade does little to diminish that reputation, and nothing to dent their persistent consistency. It's an album that catches Yo La Tengo at their most melancholy, rolling out with a sense of gentle elegance that turns even its fuzziest guitars a shade of aching, autumnal sad. Produced by John McEntire of Tortoise and The Sea and Cake —and, thus, the first YLT LP since 1993's Painful not to be produced by Roger Moutenot— it's a set of songs lazily circling the same themes of aging, of grieving, of loss.
Today Is the Day
In a way that seems particularly Yo La Tengo-ish —even though I'm not exactly sure how or why— the band address these subjects with a sense of grace, sure, but also a persistent feeling of hope. "Is That Enough?" is a richly-orchestrated, classic-pop devotional that finds the band in fine voice —with their vocals louder-in-the-mix, seemingly, than ever before— and its sense of uplift is taken to grander climes by closer "Before We Run," an epic send-off that stacks up an escalating orchestral build —a beauteous bounty of brass, woodwinds, and strings— in a tune that seeks to unironically summon the immensity and grandeur of being human, being alive, and able to cast an eye forward towards the horizon.
That sad-yet-hopeful feeling persists throughout, sustained even when the band dabble a little, stylistically. Opener "Ohm" is six minutes of wild-eyed psychedelia, all ragged at the edges; "Well You Better" is groovy to the point of bordering on funky, all nimble organ riffs, wah guitar, and loud bass; and "Paddle Forward" has a classic indie-rock feeling reminiscent of Yo La Tengo favorite "Sugarcube." Yet the feeling is largely hushed and heavy; the minimalism of "Ill Be Around" and/or "Cornelia and Jane" recalling the bashful, downcast glories of 2000's And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out.
Play for this long, and any time you do something new you're bound to bring up memories of the past. Yet Yo La Tengo are never prisoners of the past, nor are they desperate to try and escape it. They're, instead, a band comfortable with all the history that rolls out behind them, welcoming of the future that stretches out ahead of them, but, mostly, forever present on every song. Which gives their records the feeling of existing in the here-and-now, in the most beautiful way.
Release Date: January 15, 2013