Scott Creney

Yo La Tengo – Fade (Matador)

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By Scott Creney 

Fade as in Roger Daltrey wishes you all would. Fade as in Radiohead and the spirit of their immaculately paved street. Fade as in Mazzy Star into you. Fade as in Buffalo Tom and their taillights in that band’s singular transcendent statement. Fade as in De La Soul and their 3ft High and Rising haircuts[1]. Fade as in the greying of Visage. Fade as in Neil Young and time. Fade as in Joy Division and the new dawn.

Yo La Tengo has a new album out. That may not be a cause for celebration, but it’s always a reason to smile. They’re the smartest band in indie. And if you think that isn’t a compliment, that’s probably because you’re stupid. Camden Joy once compared YLT to Chinese food, something about how they’re both delicious & satisfying but nobody thinks of them as superlative or especially exciting, and how that’s totally unfair.

He’s right. YLT are special — the way they can be sweet w/o being sickly, heartfelt w/o being icky, powerful w/o being cruel is its own kind of brilliance and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Their good taste has served them well even as it’s on occasion worked against them.

First song ‘Ohm’ is literally a meditation, a series of mantras so simple that at first I thought the song might be a Noel Gallagher parody[2], but that’s just part of the effect. And after a minute or so, I settle into it’s maraca-driven one-chord shuffle groove and bliss out.

(While we’re here, I believe YLT’s Painful is better than MBV’s Loveless. Wanna fight?[3])

Fade’s great by the way. It’s probably my favorite once since ICHTHBAO. Fade pulses and hums with the rhythms of nature, sounds swell and grow, advance and recede, throughout each song. YLT may be the most nurturing band I’ve ever heard. They love and caress every note in a way that makes this album in particular[4] sound incredibly human. It makes me want to be a better person. It makes me want to love more deeply.

Or as Pitchfork would put it, ‘I’ll Be Around’ shows an unexpected John Fahey influence.

Fade is wonderful. It’s necessary in the way that tomorrow is necessary — without it, today would be unbearable.

[1] Posdnous has dandruff.

[2] Here’s the thing about Noel: I still think the lyrics on Definitely Maybe are great. NG’s lyric problem isn’t that he’s dumb, or shallow. His problem comes when he tries to sound smart or deep, not b/c he isn’t either of those things (possibly), but b/c the trying is audible — the result of NG not putting in the time & effort to actually, you know, have profound ideas about stuff (reading a book or two would be a good start—see Tweedy, Jeff for an example of how to expand one’s lyrics from simple down home truths into some pretty badass poetry c. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot).

[3] Let me know in the comments. I’ll present my side of the argument in a future article.

[4] For reasons I can’t define.

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