Fade is a perfect album for drifting through the slightly distorted dreaminess of grown-up love. It's nothing experimental or groundbreaking, and in Yo La Tengo's case, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Reminiscent of their shoegaze masterpieces I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One and Summer Sun, the Hoboken band's thirteenth studio release, produced by renowned sound guru John McEntire, is a well-balanced compilation of gentle grunge pop about trains, dreams, and holding on to those you love.
The album begins with "Ohm," a symphony of psychedelic rock candy, complete with a coda of hand claps and wandering guitar solos that make it sound like a modern take on The Beatles' "It's All Too Much." As Yo La Tengo is wont to do, they open with what would be a great album closer, and go from there to more tempered terrain. "Is That Enough," "Well You Better," and "Paddle Forward" shimmer through echoing fuzz with bright strings, snappy guitar, and the mumbling harmonies of Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley that we know and love.
The second half of the album brings a more mature voice to Fade while recalling the cozily familiar. Kaplan murmurs his insecurities and hopes in "Stupid Things," as blurry synth-strings melt into a landscape of warm guitars. In one of the many vulnerable moments on the album, he sings, "We always wake before we fall/I always know that when we wake up, you're mine." "I'll Be Around" sounds like the imparting of another intimate secret, and humming background noise is the perfect foil for twangy guitar picking. "Cornelia And Jane" combines quick guitar strumming with slow horns under Hubley's haunting warble, while "Two Trains" seemingly takes the beat from "Saturday" off And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out and reworks it into a creepy slow burn of introspective longing: "Outbound train is flashing red/We stay lost inside our head/Inbound train, engine glows/Approaches home, never slows/What are you going to do?/We're all waiting for you."
"The Point Of It" is a prime example of the bittersweet maturity so apparent on this record. Gently swaying guitar full of ambiguous chords underscores the realism of the words, "Say that we're afraid/Say that we were wrong/Maybe that's okay/If we're not that strong/That's the point of it," or, later, "Say that we're afraid/Say you're not the one/Maybe that's okay/If we're not so young/That's the point of it." We wouldn't be surprised if this song ends up on at least a few emotionally significant mixtapes. "Before We Run" closes the album with some lush pop goodness, never losing its understated sincerity even in the face of horn sections and layered production.
Fade is the lovably dusty and surprisingly poignant statement we've been waiting to hear from Yo La Tengo for years, and although their hazy brand of moody rock and roll isn't new, this solid record serves as a reminder of just how much the band has matured.
Check out "Ohm," the first single off the new album: