Yo La Tengo | The Vic | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
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When: Fri., Feb. 1, 8:30 p.m. 2013
Price: $22.50
A sense of calm, acceptance, and tenderness fills Yo La Tengo’s 13th album, Fade (Matador), cut in Chicago last summer with John McEntire. Ira Kaplan’s ubiquitous guitar feedback still surges and screams, but for the most part it’s tucked beneath a gentle ensemble sound; many of the songs are ballads, and most of the album addresses human fragility and mortality. Yo La Tengo have existed since 1984, with Kaplan and his wife, Georgia Hubley, at the helm, and bassist James McNew came aboard in 1992—and it’s natural, now that the group’s leaders are in their 50s, for their lyrics to reach beyond concerns of the moment and into holistic, big-picture territory. Several tunes acknowledge the inexorable transformations that life brings over time, as well as the ways that the commitment and support of others keeps us steady. On “Ohm” Kaplan and Hubley harmonize, “Lose no more time, no time / Resisting the flow,” and “I’ll Be Around” (not to be confused with the Spinners classic) is a lullaby promising deep emotional sustenance. Some of the lyrics would sound like marriage vows if they weren’t already backed up by decades of shared experience—it’s more than words between Hubley and Kaplan at this point. On the emotional ballad “Cornelia and Jane,” Hubley watches over a loved one who has what seems like a terminal illness, feeling a mix of helplessness and pain—the line “How can we hold on to you?” says more than any direct declaration of love could. The singers’ voices rarely rise above a hush, but this is as powerful a recording as Yo La Tengo has ever made. —Peter Margasak



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