Home > News & Reviews > Yo La Tengo

Yo La Tengo - There's A Riot Going On (Album Review)

Wednesday, 21 March 2018 Written by Jacob Brookman

Since they shuffled onto the stage over 30 years ago, New Jersey’s Yo La Tengo have established themselves as one of the most enduring lo-fi bands on the east coast, creating a catalogue of distinctive shoegaze that has impressed with its subtle diversity.

Their new album, ‘There’s a Riot Going On’ is titled with a seemingly direct reference to Sly and the Family Stone’s 1971 album of the same name. There the similarities stop. Instead of pulsating political funk, here we are plugged into stoner noise-rock. It may well be political, but of the more horizontal kind.

The songs here are frequently awful, and the playing sloppy. This is music that sounds like it is being delivered by amateurs, and while such a primitivist approach may be compelling when given the spitting, swearing, sexual energy of a punk band, in the hands of shoegaze practitioners it can be nauseating.

This feeling peaks in the middle of the album, when we are treated to a five minute ambient soundscape called Shortwave. It overstays its welcome by about four minutes.

The composition is seemingly led by a bandleader who is more interested in effects pedals than melodies. How do you screw up a soundscape, anyway?

The track that follows it, Above the Sound, is a little more interesting. It manages a rumbling melody amid overspilling percussion. It edges towards a Tom Waits sound, but lacks the unchecked lunacy of that singer. The shambolic musicianship is clearly by design, but if you haven't the taste for it you're in for a rough ride.

Shoegaze can be good. The work of Sparklehorse and Grandaddy has demonstrated the power and intelligence of introverted musicians. But ‘There’s a Riot Going On’ is not a good album. It combines an infuriating level of messiness with surprisingly frequent failures of imagination.  

Let Us Know What You Think - Leave A Comment!

You May Also Like:

Interpol - Marauder (Album Review)
Tue 04 Sep 2018
Photo: Jamie-James Medina Having dispensed with the anagrams following the release of the excellent ‘El Pintor’ four years ago, Interpol’s sixth album ‘Marauder’ is the subject of a production shift. Not since 2007’s ‘Our Love To Admire’ have they employed an outside producer, so it’s somewhat surprising to find Dave Fridmann (Mercury Rev, the Flaming Lips) at the helm here.
Black Grape Line Up Spring Tour
Tue 02 Oct 2018
Black Grape have announced a UK tour.
We Were Promised Jetpacks - The More I Sleep The Less I Dream (Album Review)
Thu 27 Sep 2018
Album four from Edinburgh's We Were Promised Jetpacks is, in their own words, about going back to basics. Since 2014’s ‘Unravelling’ they’ve changed management and label, both potential pitfalls, while recording was undertaken in the US with producer Jonathan Low. Running alongside these changes on ‘The More I Sleep The Less I Dream’ is the switch back to their original four man configuration and something approximating the style of their early releases.
Super Furry Animals To Release Yeti Fur Filled Box Set Version Of BBC Sessions Compilation
Thu 11 Oct 2018
Yes, you read that right. Clippings of fur from the Yeti outfits worn by Super Furry Animals for their 2003 hit, Golden Retriever, have been embedded into vinyl records, forming super limited versions of their forthcoming BBC sessions compilation.
Elle King Confirms Details Of Second Album 'Shake The Spirit', Shares New Track Good Thing Gone
Fri 07 Sep 2018
Elle King has shared the details of her sophomore LP. 
We Got Lucky: Kevin Devine And Petal's Kiley Lotz Sculpt A Perfect Tribute To Tom Petty
Tue 02 Oct 2018
It’s one year since we said we’d see Tom Petty somewhere along the road, and it’s still a bitter one to swallow. We’ve had time to accept that there’s a full stop to his story, and to understand our relationship with his music in a new context, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it.
Catfish And The Bottlemen Line Up February UK And Ireland Dates, Reschedule SSE Arena Wembley Show
Mon 24 Sep 2018
Catfish and the Bottlemen have announced a handful of shows in February.
Alt-J - Reduxer (Album Review)
Mon 01 Oct 2018
Remix albums don’t always work. The best examples refresh and reveal elements of the original songs, giving them new life and often broadening their appeal. When they fail, it is often because the tracks lack the integrity and consistency of the source material.
< Prev   Next >