Yo La Tengo - Summer Sun
Back in print on vinyl.
For years, Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley, Yo La’s husband-and-wife core, have been tending a little plot of land in a post-Velvet Underground urban wasteland. And they’ve remained good citizens as the neighborhood gentrified around them, demonstrating a rock-solid commitment more bands should emulate.
Yo La Tengo's albums have never been faithful to a genre. But after getting sweaty with punk rock, intimate with sonic terrorism and cuddling up to a retro surf sound, the trio have decided it's time to settle down.
On 'Summer Sun', their combination of aloof art-school pretension and frothy melodic thrill proves to be a marriage made in heaven. It's not quite a case of John Cage meets Kylie, but at heart this is a filmic pop dream, with brooding undercurrents and colourful, slippery melodies.
'Beach Party Tonight' is a sunstroke-evoking mix of seaside and darkside, 'Nothing But You and Me' sung in ageing but still swinging Sinatra-style against shuddering keyboards and a distant lead guitar fuelled by a youthful anger.
Relationships are dissected with a fearful but thankful sigh as Hawaiian guitar jostles with flute, and both Steve Coogan and chicken stew become metaphors for love. Clever can be beautiful.
Three years after "And Then Nothing", this is their eleventh album (in seventeen years) and it is another amazing record. Soft, hazy, languid and melodic, except for a couple of nifty, upbeat 60s pop songs; it's an album that will surprise as much as it will grow.
There is, as ever, a lot to take in, but we'd say it's more playful than it's predecessor with easy-listening (and Hawaiian guitars!) and jazzy shades mixing in with their usual Velvets-style simple-chorded prettiness. It's fitting they should close with a perfect cover of Big Star's "Take Care". Who needs happiness when sadness, longing and reflection feel this good?