Monday, February 6, 2017

Yo La Tengo - Popular Songs

Yo La Tengo released Popular Songs in 2009.  A kind of sprawling, lengthy album, it opens with dramatic strings on Here To Fall, a kind of indie-soul workout.  One of the band's strengths is evoking a lazy, end of summer feel, and soft, shimmering tracks like Avalon Or Someone Very Similar and I'm On My Way do just that, featuring fine guitar from Ira Kaplan, reminiscent of the softest Velvet Underground material.  Georgia Hubley gets do her spooky, sultry chanteuse thing on the keyboard-heavy By Two's and the largely acoustic When It's Dark.  It's not all sweetness, Nothing To Hide contains distorted guitars that grind just the right amount.  Elsewhere, Hubley and Kaplan duet on If It's True, which sounds like a vintage soul song, complete with swooning strings.

The final three lengthy tracks occupy 37 minutes on the album.  The first of these, More Stars Than There Are In Heaven, builds up slowly with gently growling guitars and plods along pleasantly for nine and a half minutes or so, while the virtually instrumental The Fireside sits and shimmers, making pretty sounds and effects for eleven and a half minutes.  They don't really go anywhere, but that's not really the point.  Unfortunately the longest of the three, And The Glitter Is Gone, is merely 16 minutes of grinding guitars, which is more tedious than that sounds.

Still, two out of three is not a bad strike rate and says a lot about Yo La Tengo as a band in general, they are that "two out of three" type band.