Yo La Tengo has been kicking out records for more than 20 years. The band has undergone a variety of stylistic changes and has overseen an assortment of different projects. Just last fall, it scored the live documentary of “The Love Song of R. Buckminister Fuller,” which came to our very own Wexner Center for the Arts. The purpose of this live documentary was to create an experience that could not be replicated in a recording. Then on Tuesday, Yo La Tengo released “Fade,” its first album since 2009.
The film score was not necessarily typical of Yo La Tengo in respect to its whole repertoire, but its work with the film nearly goes hand in hand with the music on “Fade.” Yo La Tengo’s soundtrack to the film was softening and lovably ignorable, but once a viewer snapped out of the peculiar trance that live music, film and narration created, it was Yo La Tengo that was the most subtle, ethereal part of the entire experience of the film. Its sound was breezy – the epitome of calm.
In “Fade,” the Yo La Tengo formula of bass, guitar and drums is nuanced by a faint orchestration. The music on every one of the album’s 10 songs does not diverge too much from the soundtrack to “Buckminister Fuller.” In fact, it operates quite similarly. Just as Yo La Tengo orchestrated the film, the band is orchestrating sad truths on “Fade.” The album holds a blurry aesthetic that furnishes themes of aging and defeat well – it only perks up on a few songs with some solo guitar fashioned from Ira Kaplan.
“Fade” is a genuine record in its composition and lyricism, with a sense of authenticity that has been exhibited in few records before – especially nowadays. Even with its laconic atmosphere, “Fade” will probably be paralleled by few records this year.