Thursday, July 30, 2009

Early Review: Yo La Tengo's Popular Songs LP impressive

Like the Sonic Youth gang, its deadpan colleague Yo La Tengo looks pretty old. It's not easy to decide who's the sprightlier power couple: Georgia Hubley and Ira Kaplan or Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore. Yo La Tengo has been around longer than some of their fans have been alive, and they’re still putting out some of their best music.

Popular Songs, the Hoboken band’s 14th album, makes it into stores via Matador Records on September 8. The indie rock heavyweights follow up to 2006 LP I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass with a new genre-stretching collection of meek, dissonant dream tracks.

The album’s closing tracks indulge in full-on psychadelia although there’s a taste of it early on in the out-there opener “Here to Fall.” “By Two’s” evokes an electronica calm likened to if you were to fall asleep wearing headphones playing Fever Ray, inching toward a much needed REM sleep in the early A.M.

The next track “Nothing to Hide” is quite the opposite. The chorus ironically spouts the truism, “We’ve all got something to hide.” The R&B single “Periodically Double or Triple” is low-tempo coffeehouse Spoon territory.

The spirited and joyous Motown-infused “If It’s True” is the closest the album comes to a bonafide pop song at a slim three minutes. The male-female vocal alternations are pretty consistent.

Don’t get excited about short tracks though because the final three tracks equal about 60 percent of the total 75-minute running time. It’s an ambitious tail end to be sure. Though the mass escalation in track length thematically widens the gap of beginning to end, Popular Songs is a very strong showing in their already accomplished senior catalogue.

Download: "If It’s True," "Periodically Double or Triple"

Hipster Rating: 9/10
Actual Rating: 8/10

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