Yo La Tengo – Fade
Never judge a book by its cover, or, in other words, never judge an album by its cover. But in the case of Yo La Tengo’s 2013 effort Fade on Matador Records, the glossy and serene album cover is a perfect match for this collection of peaceful and meditative indie rock anthems. Yo La Tengo is a New Jersey indie-pop trio fronted by husband and wife Ira Kaplan (guitar/vocals) and Georgia Hubley (drums/percussion) that made a large impression on the underground music world with their seminal 1997 release I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One. Much like every Yo La Tengo release, the trio tip-toes from genre to genre every song. Most bands would shy away from this idea and try and find a cohesive sound, but Yo La Tengo has such a potent personality and style that each song sounds familiar but not like a novelty. The band jumps from folk (“I’ll be Around”), fuzzy shoe-gaze rock (“Is That Enough”) and even drone and noise pop (“Before We Run”). Ira Kaplan also keeps the songs interesting with the experimentation of guitar effects, one of which sounds a lot like a didgeridoo in the song “Stupid Things”. “Ohm” opens up the album with a strong beat and a jangly guitar riff that sounds much like a sunny afternoon in the park. The lyrics are understated but well crafted to where the mantra-type phrases are repetitious but not annoying. The style is very serene and beautiful to where “Ohm” could be used for some indie-rock meditation. Where Yo La Tengo thrives is in their ability to make beautiful, simple, and endearing songs. “I’ll Be Around” is a fingerpicked acoustic folk track with circular vocal melodies and bass rhythm that intertwine with one another. The vocal harmonies and swirling ambience in the backgrounds makes this track the emotional core of Fade. Even though this album may be living in the shadow of the group’s more celebrated releases, each track is beautiful, calm and interesting with each listen. Yo La Tengo makes simple and charming music but provides enough quirky-ness and personality to make this album memorable. If you are looking for a perfect pairing with a quiet Sunday morning and a warm cup of tea look no further than Yo La Tengo’s Fade.
Review by James Calvet.