Yo La Tengo - Fade
Yo La Tengo have had quite the illustrious career, constantly overcoming creative stagnation by an unfashionable faith in the benefits of hard work. Though their contemporaries may have long given up the ghost or faded into mediocrity, there seems little pop culture can do to dissuade the band that it's time to pack up the guitars and call it a day.
Fade initially strikes something of a familiar chord, bearing comparison to their beautiful effort from 2000 And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out. Dedicated fans will have no trouble deflecting notions of it being a simple retread; rather this is the sound of a band approaching a bridge of maturity almost 30 years into the game. Brazen with warmth and creativity, centrepiece ‘I’ll Be Around’ is a delicate performance built around a contour of analogue tape fuzz and light guitars, possessing a hypnotic-like sheen. Though the arrangements may still be masked by the band's hushed vocals and shy instrumentation, such mystery only encourages exploration by the listener - an aspect that goes part way to explain their longevity.
Fade can also find light among the shade: album opener ‘Ohm’ recalls 1997's ‘Spec Bebop’ albeit with lyrics this time round to complement the freeform fancies; ‘Is That Enough’ is a sweet, string-soaked number backed by a twee, self conscious chorus (“Is that enough? / Oh, is that enough? / Well, it's not enough, no”) with vocal duties juggled between by husband and wife team Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley. Though merely a superficial part of the band’s appeal, it’s still charming that their bond remains as strong as ever - especially against a background of other, high-profile marital strife among the indie set. As the record enters its final half, ‘Stupid Things’ soaks through the speakers like a musical bubble bath. Georgia’s yearning vocals sweep up like an emotional vice - simple, yet melodic and provocative. ‘Two Trains’, a sultry ride through musky, throbbing guitars leads the album to its penultimate moments.
Fade is yet another installment of the classic Yo La Tengo formula. Given their record, it seems unlikely to be their last, and they continue to age gracefully.