Yo La Tengo’s Fade sounds like a Sunday afternoon. The crispness of the sounds from producer John McEntire (of Tortoise and The Sea and Cake) paired with the whispered vocals of Ira Kaplan remind me so convincingly of the wistful daydreams one has at the end of the weekend, the temperature mild. In the shuffled tempo of ‘Ohms’ to the fuzz in the background of ‘Is That Enough,’ the constant repetition of the verse-chorus-verse formula, and the intimacy in ‘I’ll Be Around,’ Yo La Tengo actually seem to be tapping into something just a shade brighter than twilight (i.e. album cover?). Darkness seeps through ‘Cornelia and Jane,’ but the slight build with the brass towards the climax makes it warmer, hopeful. ‘Stupid Things’ features some of the record’s most beautiful imagery- ‘“We always wake before we fall, I always know that when we wake up you’re mine”- but the belly of fuzz and reverb that accompanies the end makes it more poignant, like something from their 2000 release And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out.
One can take issue with the record’s Side B, but when dealing with Fade’s progression- the dub rhythm of ‘Two Trains’ to the breeziness of ‘The Point of It’- it not only creates a startling contrast to ‘Before We Run’ but also sort of perfect openers for the closer (something similar to Grizzly Bear’s ‘About Face’ after ‘Ready, Able,’ or ‘Hold Still’ foreboding the sonics of ‘While You Wait for the Others’). The record’s leanness (10 songs clocking in right under 60 minutes) and its sequencing shows Yo La Tengo’s maturity and age, releasing a compact product with no filler or extended jams and choosing a new producer, yet also choosing to add ten more songs to their dense 30-year discography. But like every other Yo La Tengo record, their ability to craft warmth is instantly recognizable, and their skills still permeate every song. It’s what fans expect but with a slight twist, so why fuss about a thirteenth record this good? Kids, it seems like Fade is already one of 2013’s most cherished records.