Album Reviews

Yo La Tengo – This Stupid World – Album Review

Yo La Tengo – This Stupid World – Album Review
by Killian Laher

Yo La Tengo’s 16th album is a complete about-turn from their most recent albums.  After perfecting such quiet of late, it’s refreshing to hear the overdriven gnarly guitar workout Sinatra Drive Breakdown, which is like their mid-90s prime.  Even the softest of vocals from Ira Kaplan fails to quell the raging guitar storm.  A real statement of an opener!  It’s followed up by the loose, skronky guitar pop of Fallout, a classic fuzzy pop song in the mould of Upside Down, Little Honda and many others.

They then move to soundscapes with Tonight’s Episode which combines a poppy melody, groaning guitar rumbles, and some clean guitar notes, yet somehow this incongruous mix works.  A total change of tack for Aselestine which is a breezy, sweet song sung with a spooked-out Georgia Hubley vocal, topped off with a gorgeous acoustic guitar solo midway through.  Apology Letter is relatively poppy, with the kind of autumnal feel that some of their more recent, catchier material has.  The title track is almost freeform, with loads of guitar noise.  But they save the best for last.  Miles Away is a superb piece of music, with haunting, resonant guitar chords, and Georgia Hubley singing gentle na-nas over them, ending in a beautiful haze of droning bleeps.  A towering closer.  It’s one of those you’ll want to hear again and again, and one of those where you won’t know why you like it, but you’ll love it.

Not that there was anything wrong with any of their albums from the last ten years or so, but this is their best album in years.  They sound energised and focused, great to hear them still pushing their sound more than 30 years after they formed the band.


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