Yo La Tengo
Fade


4.2
excellent

Review

by Rudy K. STAFF
January 18th, 2013 | 127 replies | 19,523 views


Release Date: 01/15/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Sounds like something somebody with a large portion of alt/indie in their piechart would like.

There’s a great line in the tragically defunct Starz! comedy series Party Down, when the cast of catering irregulars is working the funeral for a well-respected businessman and receive some matronly advice about love from the man’s widow. In the best Aged-African-American-Fount-of-Wisdom tradition (cue Spike Lee howling), the lady warns: “Forget fireworks, you don’t want something that blows all bright then fades. You know what love is? It’s a crockpot - not flashy, not exciting - but cooks at a low heat - day in and day out, and won’t fade. I’m guessing your girlfriend has got herself a crockpot.” Unfortunately, this lesson is promptly turned on its head when it’s revealed that the marriage was an open one, but the point remains - one articulated ever so conveniently by Fade, Yo La Tengo’s thirteenth full-length album over a career (and marriage!) spanning over a quarter of a century and displaying an almost unfair sense of creative stability and consistency that has led to quasi-demeaning terms like “the quintessential critic’s band.” Also, Adam Scott probably listens to a lot of Yo La Tengo.

The Hoboken trio (husband/wife duo Georgia Hubley and Ira Kaplan and bass player James McNew) has long moved past reliable territory and is now well into the foundational, revealing an album simple and immediate in its concepts yet gorgeously honed by experience. Fade is content to settle in on a quiet, pop-inflected sound that the group has been moving towards ever since the early ‘90s, with the nearest musical landmark being 2003’s hushed, vastly underrated Summer Sun. Their more recent albums have seen the band opening up to a wider palette than longtime fans might be comfortable with - chamber pop strings and bluesy templates sprinkled here and there amidst the ten-minute-plus noise jams - but on Fade, the subtle dips into Motown or surf rock or ‘60s soul are natural outgrowths of a Yo La Tengo sound that already feels classic. Playing spot the influence is tempting, but at this point Yo La Tengo are the influence, mixing and matching Electr-O-Pura’s spindly guitar textures with Popular Songs’ crisp chamber-pop production and And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out’s meditative, crackling atmospherics. And that’s just on “Stupid Things.”

Despite being bookended by two six-minute-and-change pieces, Fade clocks in at just a shade over forty-five minutes, an unusually concise turn for the band and a testament to new producer John McEntire (Tortoise, The Sea and the Cake), who is only the second producer the band has worked with since 1993(!). He brings an affinity for additional orchestration - most notably the lovely, somber horn work on “Cornelia and Jane” and the increasingly complex layers of instrumentation, particularly the perfect saxophone, that runs through “Before We Run” - that provides a nice segue with the band’s work on 2009’s Popular Songs, providing embellishments that enhance rather than detract from the band’s fundamentally wistful, melodically rich aesthetic. Yet McEntire’s hand is a light one, more content to sharpen the edges of the band’s core sound than to hack away at anything wholesale. Take album lead-off “Ohm,” for example, a song so stereotypically Yo La Tengo - distortion pedals, buzz-saw, squealing guitars, fuzzy empty space and oddball percussion, Kaplan sounding almost preternaturally calm amidst the chaos, etc. - that it’s almost too easy to appreciate what the band is doing here, to wave it off as a band reveling in what makes them comfortable. What it actually is, of course, is a group making one of the best songs of their careers, nearly thirty years into said career, out of the same building blocks they’ve always done, drawing that chugging rhythm out almost hypnotically, propelling a pristine pop melody through a cyclone of wonderfully grimy noise, a groove with its feet firmly planted in Velvets-esque noise and sunwashed ‘60s pop. “Ohm” is the same old Yo La Tengo that has gotten the band and its fans this far, but tighter, settled, (and I’d never thought this was possible), more unerringly confident.

Fade is not an exciting record on its face, but finds itself in the emotional peaks that surface hazily here and there, through colorful production and exquisite songwriting: in the gradual uplifting and bubbly guitar tones of “Well You Better”; the sleepy romance of Hubley’s “Cornelia and Jane” washing out into the drowsy drum-machine driftwood of “Two Trains”; the softly triumphant horn arrangements of “Before We Run”; the pleasant feeling engendered by a soft collection of tracks coalescing together flawlessly, cohesively, into one languid, dazzling whole. The thrill is in those parts coming together so effortlessly and fluidly, bits and pieces of a brilliant past resurfacing in a present and future increasingly detailed and unique in its own voice, where the songs get better and the messages clearer the more time you spend with it. Kind of like a marriage, actually. Or, you know, a crockpot.



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user ratings (164)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
kingsoby1
Emeritus
January 17th 2013



4940 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

rudy klapper u r my hero

NightmareCinema16
January 17th 2013



2016 Comments


I am in tears. This redefines my thoughts. Oh, yeah, and the review was nice.

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
January 17th 2013



14990 Comments

Album Rating: 3.4

semicolons dont get enclosed in quotation marks u trash

Fieryfenderz
January 17th 2013



1425 Comments


I've never heard any of their stuff. And now I see they have like 20 albums. Holy shit where do I start?

foxblood
January 17th 2013



6797 Comments


lol summary

party down in first sentence best review ever

klap
Staff Reviewer
January 17th 2013



10258 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

omg alex

Digging: The Bilinda Butchers - Heaven

zxlkho
January 17th 2013



3460 Comments


that summary lol

elephantREVOLUTION
January 17th 2013



2736 Comments


best summary ever

toxin.
January 17th 2013



12021 Comments


why this summary lol

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
January 17th 2013



49801 Comments


If you want to know where the summary is from then you gotta read through the 2012 Users 50-31 thread

Digging: Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) - You Will Eventually Be Forgotten

toxin.
January 17th 2013



12021 Comments


I know where it's from

Gyromania
January 17th 2013



15200 Comments


summary is apt

good work klapper

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
January 17th 2013



9033 Comments


The summary is too much

Days of Future Passed
January 17th 2013



471 Comments


Came for review, stayed for summary.

Digging: Duster - 1975

Winesburgohio
January 17th 2013



1006 Comments


omg Party Down :D

Digging: Wretched Excess - Away From This World

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
January 17th 2013



23798 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

summary of the fucking year and it's still January

Review rules, Rudy rules, album rules, I rule? Yes. Yes, I rule too.

derho
January 17th 2013



307 Comments


Ohm is fuckin awesome. Great review though.

Ire
January 17th 2013



41749 Comments


band rules good review klappr

chambered99
January 17th 2013



780 Comments


omg that summary hahaha

Romulus
January 17th 2013



8411 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

awesome review and awesome band but this record is just aight



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