Yo La Tengo
There’s A Riot Going On


2.5
average

Review

by butcherboy USER (123 Reviews)
March 15th, 2018 | 107 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Novocained muzak for the middle-aged Gen-X'er..

Somewhere in my early 20’s, when I’d been living away for close to 7 years, my folks moved out of downtown Montreal to a small wintry town in Newfoundland, an island off the coast of Canada. It was a quiet, crimeless shanty little place. The kind of town where no one locked their doors, where neighbours quickly became family, the type of town where a man would marry the girl next door, then move two doors down from their parents’ places, rinse, repeat, there goes the neighbourhood. The first time I visited them, I was jarred by it all. I was coming out of New York City; Prague, St. Petersburg, Barcelona and a slew of other big cities before that. I’d gotten firmly mired in the social nihilism and artful detachment that cultural metropolises wielded as a way of survival. The first time a woman I’d never met before said ‘Hi’ to me outside a grocer’s with a cloying smile, I had to stop myself from telling her to go fuck herself, as imposed instinct. In the back of my head securely sat rule #1 of commuting on the F train – when a stranger speaks to you, they’re either trying to rob you or they’re a nutjob. That country bumpkin friendliness seemed saccharine, simpering, unnecessary and just plain boring. Around the middle of my second visit, the charm of it started seeping its way into me a bit - people waving at each other across the street, yammering on about the weather, asking about your life constantly. I dipped my toes in it, made some friends, smiled at strangers more. On the third visit (about 6 years later), I’d settled into a decent mid-ground – I enjoyed the hick howdy-do in small doses, didn’t let anyone too close and generally behaved in a way that kept people at arm’s length without pissing them off (good policy to have in the age of Internet interaction as well). Things were nice and sweet, but with the steadfast understanding that that niceness could spiral into a wearing, dull moment any given second. That resigned, hyper-polite mid-ground has come to define Yo La Tengo’s output post-2000 – a friendly Hey! outside a grocer’s you throw a nod to and then shrug off just as quickly. Fetching, supremely relaxed and winsomely melancholic, There’s a Riot Going On shuffles and meanders its way through one lovely arrangement after another, alternating between alt. country, electropop, aimless ambient, chamber pop, dream pop and soft rock. There isn’t a sour note to be heard here, which makes both for the record’s attractiveness and its ultimate hindrance. It’s just too much of the same kind of neutered good. Even the songs where they manage to climb out of first gear (For You Too, Out of the Pool) sport neither the brawny fuzz nor the earnest romanticism of their best loud material of yester-century. Not that one comes around to Yo La Tengo for want of noise. They were always singularly masterful at crafting softness that somehow gutted its way through your heart, left you in emotional tatters. But there isn’t anything here that can shake their tender masterpieces like “Autumn Sweater,” “Nowhere Near” or “Our Way to Fall” either. Like the overinvolved amiable small-town simpleton, Riot stands there with arms wide open, ready to stifle you with puppy love. It’s all delightful and comely and capable; so resolutely pleasant that when it goes in for that un-asked-for hug, you might just want to give it an underhand jab between the ribs to coax even the slightest passion out of it.



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user ratings (68)
Chart.
3
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
butcherboy
March 15th 2018


9464 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

instant downloads now available with vinyl orders of the album..

SandwichBubble
March 15th 2018


9392 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

That was a good read, and somehow you managed to trick the censor to get the word fuck in there. Respect.

Digging: R. Stevie Moore - Children's Museum

butcherboy
March 15th 2018


9464 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

too bad the album is a bore..

Gyromania
March 15th 2018


26603 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

aw man. say it ain't so! i really enjoyed fade

butcherboy
March 15th 2018


9464 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

i wasn't a fan of Fade either, so you might love this, Gyro..

SandwichBubble
March 15th 2018


9392 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

"too bad the album is a bore.."

No doubt in my mind, but I'm still gonna check it. ;)

Honestly, might catch some flack for this, but I never was big on Yo La Tengo back in the day. Don't know why. sucks, cause I used to listen to bands like them all the damn time.

Gyromania
March 15th 2018


26603 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

wait wtf. they had an lp after fade? i need to stop living under a rock.



fade was a hard 3.5 for me. not amazing by any stretch, but an enjoyable album through and through. doesn't hold a candle to their heyday material though - particularly i can hear the heart...

Divaman
March 15th 2018


3374 Comments


Yeah, I've lived in New York for too many years. That kind of small-town friendliness really sets my teeth on edge.

Digging: Seahawks - Eyes of the Moon

SandwichBubble
March 15th 2018


9392 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Y'all need to come down south. As a former NY (not the city) denizen, I can assure you florida is quite nice this time of year.

bgillesp
March 15th 2018


6717 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Florida isn't the south. Unless you're in the panhandle.

bgillesp
March 15th 2018


6717 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Also nice review.

Divaman
March 15th 2018


3374 Comments


I've got some relatives in the Ft. Lauderdale area, and on up the coast. Feels like half the state is ex-NYers.

bgillesp
March 15th 2018


6717 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Which is why it isn't really a southern state

SandwichBubble
March 15th 2018


9392 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

What direction would someone from New York go to reach Florida that isn't south?

You're referring to "The South"



5700th comment is defending the glory of Florida, wouldn't have it any other way

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
March 15th 2018


15058 Comments


Great read Butch, I agree, Iused to visit my grands in a little village in Spain and that sudden close(ness) felt sketchy and intrusive to me.

About the album, jammed the first track and it bored me to death. Never liked them anyway though.

Digging: Deafkids - Metaprogramao

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
March 15th 2018


16680 Comments


Could barely get thru Stuff Like That There as I recall. Seems like they're making music just for Robert Christgau these days.

theBoneyKing
March 15th 2018


16144 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Robert Christgau has great taste tbqh

Digging: Modest Mouse - The Moon & Antarctica

Doctuses
March 15th 2018


1908 Comments


enjoyed the read

Doctuses
March 15th 2018


1908 Comments


florida is probably the least suck of all the south-suck-states

Slex
March 16th 2018


6190 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

This was suuuuuch a chore to get through, shame

Digging: Shin Guard - 2020



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