US - New Jersey - Full Moon 160 - 10/04/09
Yo La Tengo
Matador Records / Playground
A new album by veterans (they are, 25 years/12 regular albums on in the game) Yo La Tengo is like having a dear old
friend - someone you haven't seen for a long, long time - knocking on your door. You're letting him/her in for a good chat, a cup of tea/coffee, a delicious
dinner (nothing fancy), guided by some good wine (or beer), and a drink afterwards. Maybe even a quick dessert, and a glass of port. Then, hugs and goodbye.
I never get tired of Yo La Tengo. Well, I 'd better correct myself. I found Summer Sun (2003) rather dull at the time.
Maybe I should give it another try. Besides that one, I'm a fan all the way. Popular Songs (their 12th album, not counting some of the neat collections/compilations/soundtrack releases,
or the Condo Fucks' record earlier this year) is a new album holding 12 songs, a quality pack of high standard song-writing.
As always Yo La Tengo buzz and whisper. They make quiet noise and loud silence. They play to-the-point sugar-coated (sweet'n'sour taste) pop songs clocking
in at 3 minutes ("Nothing to Hide"), and they glide on into expanded/extended musical landscapes lasting 10-15 minutes ("The Fireside" and "And the Glitter
Opener "Here to Fall" is a magic, swirling song. It's a dizzying, hallucinatory merry-go-round ride, with a dazed, psychedelic touch. "Avalon or Someone
Very Similar", sung by Georgia, is a classic swaying Yo la Tengo ballad, with ace guitar picks by Ira. And a juicy organ, like most of the songs. Georgia
sings the spellbinding "By Two's" as well, showing Yo La Tengo's most touching and fragile side. It's even somewhat eerie, creepy, as well. "All Your Secrets"
is a fantastic, fine song. The closing, nearly 16 minutes long "And the Glitter Is Gone" is a massive piece. If I should say something negative about Popular
Songs, I'd say it (maybe) is a bit too long. Well, that's what I often feel when hearing albums clocking in at 1 hour plus. That said, Popular Songs
should be heard again and again, from start to finish. Eventually it works better and better as a whole. It's like the mothership of popular music never becoming
Ira, Georgia and James are good and clever people, knowing the history of pop and rock inside-out. Popular Songs is sort of a reflection of 40+ years
of popular music. This album is pretty amazing, and - again - Yo La Tengo have come up with one of their best. I'm looking forward to yet another European tour later this fall.
Copyright © 2009 Håvard Oppøyen