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Yo La Tengo - This Stupid World (Album Review)

Monday, 13 February 2023 Written by Craig Howieson

Photo: Cheryl Dunn

It could be argued that Yo La Tengo are something of a jam band, especially when they lay down the bones of a record as a live three piece. That is once again the case on their sublime 16th LP ‘This Stupid World’, where their extended instrumental sections and experimental voyages are enlivened by grizzled pop melodies and euphoria-inducing breakdowns.

For decades, Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley and James McNew have set their own markers upon the indie-rock trail, and even when considered against such a towering back catalogue ‘This Stupid World’ could well be the finest summation of a band who rarely let you down. 

As is often apparent from their extended track lengths, Yo La Tengo are not a band in a rush. They have come to realise there are no right and wrong answers, just more questions to be asked along the way. 

On Fallout, above a chord progression that harks back to when they and Sonic Youth were first starting out, Kaplan sings: “I don’t know how it’s gonna be / close your eyes, fall out of time with me.” It's a nod to a lesson we would all do well to take heed of—it is OK to step off the treadmill once in a while. 

The group have lost none of their idiosyncratic whimsy, either. The disco bop buried under the industrial churn of Tonight's Episode makes the lyrics, relaying an array of different yo-yo tricks, all the funnier.

In direct contrast, we are then immediately treated to the album's prettiest moment as Hubley takes over vocals on Aselestine. There is a Laurel Canyon vibe to the tracks reckoning with the sadness that accompanies the losses we suffer over time: “One day walking / Walking on leaves, then snow.”

Yo La Tengo can be distant, abrasive, indulgent and challenging, often in the space of the same song. But as they prove on ‘This Stupid World’ their tracks all contain diamonds among a sea of broken glass. “This stupid world is all we have,” sings Kaplan on the title track. Records like this one make it a better place to be.

Yo La Tengo Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Mon April 10 2023 - DUBLIN 3Olympia Theatre
Wed April 12 2023 - MANCHESTER New Century
Thu April 13 2023 - BRISTOL SWX
Fri April 14 2023 - LONDON Palladium

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