This ‘Yo La Tengo’ article was written by Zoe Anderson, a GIGsoup contributor
As the spiritual sequel to 1990’s ‘Fakebook’, ‘Stuff Like That There’ (‘SLTT’ from herein) has big boots to fill. Once again, this 2015 release marries emotive acoustic guitar sounds with springy and wonderfully constructed electric riffs. Ira Kaplain and George Hubey’s lyrical melancholy remains captivating as always, whilst guitarist Dave Schrumm re-joins the band and supplies some lovely, wistful sounds. Yo La Tengo seem to be very fond of ‘second parter’ studio albums. They released ‘Extra Painful’ as a loving tribute to the 1993 album of the same title and continue to cover their own tracks in new and interesting ways. In fact, Yo La Tengo have always be fond of covers; in an early 90s concert they were heckled by an audience member for not playing any original songs. There are certainly covers aplenty here, notably the Cure’s ‘Friday, I’m in Love’.
‘SLTT’ is a beautifully calming addition to the Yo La Tengo discography. Across their almost thirty year career they have always had the uncanny ability to sound like they’re not really trying, an apparent cavalier attitude to their music which makes them all the more attractive; effortlessly cool. ‘Naples’ in particular flows with heart-aching lyrics whilst jarring with chirpy and complex melodies, a juxtaposition that makes the music fantastically interesting. This apparent effortlessness is what makes ‘SLTT’ even more captivating, inviting the listener into a story rather than a song. The rest of Yo La Tengo’s discography abounds with this kind of figurative musical storytelling, and this is certainly a strong theme in ‘SLTT’.
Whether with age or intent, Yo La Tengo’s sound has certainly softened over the years. The persistently gritty sound to their music is slightly more muted in their 2015 album. ‘SLTT’ relies significantly more on acoustic music, leading to a softer sound than previous efforts. It’s the softer, less alternative next child of the group that continue to stay afloat in an industry that is becoming more involved with electronic production. Overall, this is an easy-listening album that is all about the understated, about what you hear but don’t immediately or actively register. It’s passive, and in its passivity lays its beauty.
‘Stuff Like That There’ is out 28th August via Matador Records.