Yo La Tengo - Stuff Like That There (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Yo La Tengo

Stuff Like That There (2015)


Stuff Like That There is many things. First off, it's a love-letter to Yo La Tengo's loyalists. It's also an ode to bands who they drew inspiration from. In addition, it also seems like a personal statement, not only on their current status, but where they see themselves in the industry in the future. Fakebook fans would surely lap up the reunion of former guitarist, Dave Schramm, alongside founding members, Ira Kaplan (guitar), and Georgia Hubley (drums), as well as longtime bassist James McNew, which accomplishes what they set out to do. And that's to show that no matter how much time passes, they've still got that YLT magic, which for all intents and purposes, is timeless.

The chemistry's there and very much apparent. Undiluted. Unplugged. Unabashed. The new songs in "Awhileaway" and "Rickety" are finger-picking gems, endearing and warm, as we've come to expect. They're full of imagination and artistic to say the least. It feels like YLT's template for churning out hits but when they're that good at what they do, you don't complain. They're singalong, effortless and catchy, which harp on the band's easygoing and deep-rooted sense of melody. I admit though, I expected more off their reworking of old songs. "All Your Secrets," "The Ballad Of Red Buckets" and "Deeper Into Movies" offer depth and a strong sense of fan-service but I felt short-sold a bit here. These renderings are more refrains than anything else, trying to capture another dimension (lush and dense at the same time) of the band's capability. Nonetheless, they're still decent interpretations and show how flexible and adaptable YLT can be, and will always be. Could have been somewhat wilder though...

Then come the mellow, stripped down covers like The Cure's "Friday, I'm In Love" - a nice country/folk shuffle - which melds nicely into bare-boned takes on The Lovin' Spoonful's "Butchie's Tune" and Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" - all harmonic yet hushed. To be honest, this is a great album to watch the final sunset of summer because there's a bubbly romantic feel to the songs. Throw in a twangy, vintage aesthetic and you can see them painting a portrait of a twilight; unfettered and soul-baring. As usual, YLT evoke a lot of emotion and Stuff Like That There is another luscious, heavy-hearted piece of storytelling, which I'm accustomed to when it comes to their style. Ultimately, whatever YLT scrawl, even when average, will still manage to be a cut above and this album is a prime example why.