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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Yo La Tengo a keeper for the patient

    You can’t fault Yo La Tengo for its sense of humor. This indie institution continues to amuse itself by following its own musical path, regardless of the current hyped-up sound and band.

    The archly titled Popular Songs, YLT’s 14th studio album and not a greatest hits compilation, is as protean as the rest of the band’s catalogue. Whereas 2006’s I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass proved to be an eclectic yet jaunty album that had a rewarding immediacy, Popular Songs tends to grow on you with each listen. It’s like meeting that person hanging out in the corner at the party who catches you off-guard with his or her worldly knowledge and soft-spoken optimism.

    The first nine songs will probably be the ones most of us will revisit again and again. Opener “”Here to Fall”” recalls the warm, lush sound of Zero 7’s down-tempo debut mixed with ’60s psychedelia. “”Avalon Or Someone Very Similar”” features wonderful falsetto from singer and guitarist Ira Kaplan. If you’re looking for something more upbeat, there’s “”Nothing to Hide”” with its garage-rock guitar and bouncy organ, and “”Periodically Double or Triple,”” which features a funkier sound.

    For those with greater patience, there are the last three songs. The least rewarding among them is “”The Fireside,”” which features acoustic guitar in the midst of an ambient soundscape that proves too skeletal for its 11-minute length. The other songs will appeal to you depending on your mood. If you want 16 minutes of cathartic guitar feedback and hypnotic rhythms, go with the closer, “”And the Glitter is Gone.”” If you want over nine minutes of blissful buildup that, unfortunately, features a somewhat disappointing payoff compared to what post-rock bands such as Explosions in the Sky and Godspeed! You Black Emperor have done, then you might enjoy “”More Stars Than There Are In Heaven.””

    After 25 years, Yo La Tengo has amassed a catalogue that may be a little daunting to the new listener. But Popular Songs proves to be a good starting point for anyone who wants to join this band’s musical explorations.

    Yo La Tengo

    Matador Records

    Released September 8, 2009

    Listen to this:

    “”Periodically Double or Triple””

    “”Nothing to Hide””

    “”All Your Secrets””

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