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Yo La Tengo - Stuff Like That There (Album Review)

Thursday, 03 September 2015 Written by Ben Bland

Photo: Dusdin Condren

A new Yo La Tengo release is usually a cause for celebration. As one of the most outstanding bands of their generation, the New Jersey indie rock trio have a discography most bands their age would die for. From the graceful swells of 1993’s ‘Painful’, to the krautrock-infused pop of 1998’s ‘I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One’ and the concise beauty of 2013’s ‘Fade’, this is a band that rarely fail to deliver.

Now 13 albums in, they have reached a level of consistency that eludes most artists 30 years into their career.  Whether ‘Stuff Like That There’ really changes this perception is unclear. While this has been billed an album of reworkings and covers, the last all new album in the Yo La Tengo catalogue to fit this description – 1990’s ‘Fakebook’ – is widely considered an overlooked gem in the band’s catalogue. It’s hard to see ‘Stuff Like That There’ meeting the same acclaim.

There is little to critique about the actual songs gathered here. Much like ‘Fakebook’, this is a primarily acoustic effort, so there’s none of Ira Kaplan’s trademark guitar histrionics or James McNew’s propulsive bass. What we do get are plenty of Georgia Hubley’s delightful vocals, which are given more room to breathe with the quieter arrangements.

Highlights include Friday I’m in Love (surely the greatest pop song of the ‘90s?), a mournful I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry and a neat rejigging of the band’s own Deeper Into Movies.

However, even the best moments here feel rather beige and unnecessary. They would, arguably, be better placed on a surprise EP or radio session, but having them cobbled together on an album rather negates the positive qualities of the individual songs. The resulting record is monotonous and repetitive, with Yo La Tengo sounding uncharacteristically tedious. ‘Stuff Like That There’ is recommendable only to the band’s most devoted completists.

Yo La Tengo Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows

Fri October 16 2015 - GLASGOW Garage
Sun October 18 2015 - BRISTOL Colston Hall
Mon October 19 2015 - COVENTRY Warwick Arts Centre
Tue October 20 2015 - LONDON O2 Shepherds Bush Empire

Click here to compare & buy Yo La Tengo Tickets at Stereoboard.com.


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