Yo La Tengo – Fade
Words: Jordan Catalana

It was 2005. I was twelve years old and filling my first iPod mini (metallic lime green, naturally) with very legal $.99 versions of my favorite Top 40 hits. Now, I’m not sure if it was free that day or I bought it accidentally when I got the title confused with an Akon song, but somehow—call it divine intervention—“You Can Have It All” ended up on my “~*bUs RiDe*~” playlist, and I have been intrigued ever since.

Ira Kaplan’s voice excited me then in a way that felt new and adventurous, and Fade, Yo La Tengo’s newest studio album has reawakened those same feelings all over again. Yo La Tengo uses Fade to ensure listeners that they are, despite starting making music years before I was even born, as relevant as ever. Fade, unlike just about every other of the Jersey band’s album, is stronger and more powerful in its entirety than in individual songs.

There are surely stand-out tunes, leadoff track “Ohm” and album closer “Before We Run” included, both of which would be able to find an audience even if they had been released separately from the album. But Yo La Tengo’s start-to-finish work is a collection of beautifully crafted songs strung together in one thematic story of intentional ambivalence. Through lyrics and music the seasoned vets are able to convey—whether intentionally or not—a prolonged sense of honesty, or at least vulnerability, in each slightly synthesized or muffled musical decision.

Yo La Tengo’s thirteenth studio album does not wow in an explosive way, but rather relies on the communal ambience that comes as a result of ten appropriately adventurous tracks with one shared message of what I can only describe as the musical equivalent of soul-searching. I’m not sure that Fade will be the record to bring Yo La Tengo from an under-the-radar band of geniuses to radio mainstays, but I do think that the record tops off the band’s somewhat chaotic discography with a well-needed air of stability.

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