Yo La Tengo – Popular Songs

Yo La Tengo
Popular Songs
(Matador)
Over the last few years, these New Jersey critic darlings have crossed the line from “introspective and hypnotic” to plain boring. And the first half of this new album doesn’t help much to rectify this. Apart from a few inspired moments like the upbeat rocker “Nothing to Hide” and the stately ballad “I’m on my way” (which is as beautiful as anything they’ve ever made) the drowsy vocals of Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley seem to be struggling to keep awake more then usual. While nothing on the first half is particularly offensive, you could call all of it an album filler lead up to the last three songs, which consist of a 35 minute suite of everything Yo La Tengo have ever been good at. The last three songs consist of 9 minutes of pure, trance-inducing, fuzzed out grooving to 11 minutes of delicious ambient rumination to 15 minutes of feedback-soaked freeform guitar histrionics. You could call it a great mini-album tucked inside a bloated major release.

Patrick Canning