Yo La Tengo’s ‘Fade’ spellbinding, focused
New CDs issued this week of Tuesday, Jan. 15, include a spellbinding new disc by Yo La Tengo, “Fade”; “Manifestra,” by Erin McKeown; A$AP Rocky’s “Long.Live.A$AP”; and Teena Marie’s “Beautiful.”
Yo La Tengo, ‘Fade’ (Matador)
Since 1984, Yo La Tengo has quietly built a career as one of America’s most versatile rock bands, excelling at everything from revved-up fuzz-pop to blue-eyed soul, Kraftwerk-like plod to Velvets-style strut. Singer-guitarist Ira Kaplan’s exploratory yet always melodic six-string heroics are the stuff of legend.
The New Jersey trio’s 13th album, “Fade,” finds all its sonic hallmarks — uncluttered arrangements, metronome-tight drumming, full-bodied guitars, whispery dual vocals — working harmoniously.
The A-side is pop-oriented, but diverse. On “Ohm,” a serpentine hook envelops a bright, repeated D chord, soon giving way to an epic Kaplan solo. The gentle “Is That Enough” adds orchestral flourishes, the sparse “Well You Better” conjures a less tense Talking Heads and the blustery “Paddle Forward” is a highflying ’90s throwback.
The album’s atmospheric latter half — bookended by standouts “Stupid Things” and “Before We Run” — is mellow, nocturnal and spellbinding.
Yo La Tengo doesn’t make bad records, but considering its fondness for sprawling double-LPs, “Fade” is remarkably concise and focused. For new listeners, it’s an excellent starting point; for old-timers, a welcome addition to a brilliant catalog.
Charlie Zaillian, Seattle Times freelancer
Other new releases
Erin McKeown, “Manifestra” (TV)
A$AP Rocky, “Long.Live.A$AP” (RCA)
Teena Marie, “Beautiful” (UMe)
Note: Yo La Tengo plays at 7 p.m. Friday at Easy Street Records on Lower Queen Anne.