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“A Bit on Fade and Yo La Tengo”

Yo La Tengo on Fade sound like a band that wakes up at noon, brews gourmet coffee on a French press while fetching the New York Times, pours coffee adding a little cardamom, walks down to an ethnic market, maybe talking to a relative on the phone. They’ve got it made, and they make it. It sounds like at night they move to a fully enhanced studio with the world’s premiere producing minds and the most furnished synths and recording equipment, with all of which they overlook a nighttime skyline from a double-digit floor, and just sink into a zone. Certain parts of Fade had me thinking it was the best album since the ’80’s.
If I may bring things back to earth for a bit, it’s funny how their albums match some sentimental profession actually at hand in the music — see the confrontation on I am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass of songs like “Pass the Hatchet, I Think I’m Goodkind” and “The Race is On Again,” and the perky, universal appeal of moments on Popular Songs like “Nothing to Hide” and “If it’s True,” in addition to the good but piercingly cinematic “More Stars than There are in Heaven.”
Fade is not an album for the Apollonian, or the devout. It’s narcisistically beautiful. No longer do they make music for going into the middle of a crowd and starting a romantic rant to someone you love, the kind “Sugarcube” could soundtrack. Back then they heard the heart beating as one, ok Yo La Tengo, then nothing turned itself inside out, ok Yo La Tengo, but in spite of itself, the world keeps spinning, and Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley cling to music, the pristine, candy-tones kind, though here more narcotic than ever, as a means of staying alive.

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