Yo La Tengo’s ‘Fade’ for a Sunday Afternoon

YLTSo after an evening of drinking, Maniac, seeing my best friend’s Siberian Husky go into a massive seizure, and then watching The Cure’s entire 2 hour set at Lollapalooza till 1am, I needed something calming for this afternoon.  Yo La Tengo’s Fade was just what I needed.

When this album came out back in January I instantly connected with it.  There was no “living with it” time needed.  It floors me that these three indie rock alumni continue to put out stellar albums.  Popular Music, their last proper album was just amazing.  Equal parts jangly rock n’ roll, 60s brill building pop, and experimental sonic dirges it summed up everything we’ve(I’ve) come to love about these New Jersey rockers.  Well, Fade is the culmination of both a sigh of relief and of contentment.  It’s Yo La Tengo looking at their inevitable mortality and saying “You know what, I’m good.”  I mean that in a very Zen-like way.  I think there were some health scares in the band(Ira, I believe).  He’s healthy now(at least the last time we had lunch he looked really good), but songs like “Ohm”, “Stupid Things”, “I’ll Be Around” and the beautiful album closer “Before We Run” have a feeling of Buddha-like ease.  As if they somehow had a peak at the meaning of it all and are sharing that knowledge through these rather transcendent pop tunes.  And when I say pop, I mean pop.  “Is That Enough” is a piece of Brill Building pop songcraft that folks like Nilsson, King, and Bachrach would be proud to call their own.  “Well You Better” is nothing short of brilliant with its electric piano opening before the steady bass comes in with Georgia’s always tight drum beat and the song takes off like some lost 60s pop gem.  This album stays on the light side for the most part, leaving the jangly and noisy dirges from I’m Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass behind, with the exception of upbeat and scrappy “Paddle Forward”, which sounds like a distant cousin to And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out’s “Cherry Chapstick”.  For the most part, though, they keep it simple and meditative.  Coming back to this record this afternoon reminded me just how wonderful it is.  It’s jumped back into my top albums of the year.  Sorry, Ira, Georgia, and James.  I’ll never ignore you three again.

I think I’ll be hitting up the rest of their catalog after I finish my second listen to Fade.  I should also check to see how my best friend’s Siberian is doing.  But first, some more YLT.  And some Ibuprofen.

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