When Sly and The Family Stone released the first record called There’s a Riot Goin’ On, it was part of a worldwide, furious resistance against criminals like Nixon, Kissinger and Hoover. Nobody knew that the generation who fought so hard against the Man in the 60s and 70s would go on to be the bastards that they are today. Even hardcore Yippies like Jerry Rubin went corporate and started prospecting real estate in the 80s. As is common knowledge, they’re why we’re all fucked.
Yo La Tengo’s 2018 album of the same name is the millennial’s response to the cruel follies of our parents’ generation, as gifted by officially the most sensitive generation X bedroom indie band ever, self-recorded from their practice space. It may lack the heat of its forbear, but sums up its backdrop, and its audience, with similar insight.
This is a fragile, resilient record; it sounds as if underneath a deep layer of snow, hinting upon spring without the might to fully herald it. Yo La Tengo are capable of upbeat bangers – Ohm, Sugarcube etc – but such tunes are absent here. This is the band at their most reflective; writing songs of fuzzy, gentle beauty. Shades of Blue and What Chance Have I Got are some of the most perfect and succinct tracks yet written by the band, harkening back to classics like Big Day Coming and Autumn Sweater in their romantic simplicity. Esportes Casual sees a Stereolab-like sojourn into lounge and bossa nova, and You Are Here kicks off the record with the indistinct, meandering found throughout. Typically diverse in style, what links the record is its sense of inclusive melancholy. It’s a record with a gentleness that urges you to try and be less anxious, with a fragility that acknowledges that it probably hasn’t worked.