Indie rock mainstay, Yo La Tengo remains beautifully consistent and lovingly fuzzy on its twelfth studio release, Popular Songs. The disc opens up with the dense and sexy “Here to Fall,” in which wah-wah guitar glimmers and a throbbing undercurrent of pulsating synths add great weight to Ira Kaplan’s world-weary lyrics: “I know you’re worried / I’m worried too.”
The disc delivers a fresh set of the sort of soft urgencies and fuzz box reveries that Yo La Tengo has so captivatingly carved over the course of its career, without ever sounding like a rehash or refresher course. “If It’s True” dips into cutesy, late-sixties-informed twee rock territory and easily steers clear of becoming quirky-cheezy pop.
The lullaby throb of “By Two’s” frames Georgia Hubley’s wilted-whisper vocals within a gorgeous hush of slight electronics and keyboard twirls to great effect. The electric guitar crush of classically-minded indie rockers, “Nothing To Hide” and “Avalon Or Someone Very Similar” coast along breezily and calmly, familiar and reassuringly catchy.
The album’s second half consists of three elongated cuts and proves an undeniably invigorating listening experience. Freefalling guitar doodles and feedback hum glide and shimmer over a tumbling percussive jam on the sixteen-minute closer, “And The Glitter Is Gone” while “The Fireside” hosts an ecosystem of melancholic melodies noodled out in glistening acoustic and electric counterpoint. “More Stars Than There Are In Heaven” is the breath-stealing high point, connecting Kaplan and Hubley’s voices within a webby sheath of crunchy powerchords and hypnotic reversed guitars. The track builds and bends into a sleepy canon and slips away like a rainy afternoon daydream.
Favorite Track: “More Stars Than There Are In Heaven”
Reviewer Bio - Christopher j Ewing is a writer and filmmaker living in Los Angeles with a girl and a designer dog. He is in a band by himself, has a myspace account at www.myspace.com/wastedpotentialproduction and a production company at (www.wastedpotentialproductions.com) for freelance film, video and journalism work.