After warming considerably to Yo La Tengo’s Fade, I downloaded Popular Songs and listened to it today on the train. As Dan Weiss intimated, there’s a nice patch in the middle, but the first three songs are barely there, and the one song that stuck out, a duet between Ira and Georgia called “If It’s True,” bugged me because a) it was so slight, and b) the intro was swiped from the Four Tops’ “I Can’t Help Myself,” which is just too obvious. Of Christgau’s two picks, “Periodically Triple” is the band in 60s kitsch mode and “And the Glitter is Gone” is a nice squelching instrumental, but neither strikes me as major. I noticed that there were just as many horn and string arrangements on this record as there are on the new one, so Fade isn’t nearly as radical a move as I was led to believe by Weiss and the rest. I’m still peeling the layers off the onion, but the guitar solo on “Ohm” really goes somewhere, and the arrangements are quite inventive, like the little violin/viola duet at the end of “Is that Enough.”
A side note that has nothing to do with reviewing records: I replaced my copy of Summer Sun yesterday– traded in a bunch of shit at Spin. The record was supposedly new, but clearly was a used copy that was clearly re-shrink wrapped. I don’t know whether to be offended by their chicanery or sad that that what the mom and pop retail world has come to in order to survive. The CD wasn’t scratched, so I’ll cut them some slack.
New Year’s Resolutions: don’t miss a deadline, write about thirty records a month, earn/keep the respect of my peers, be nothing but exceptional, support my writing friends. Celebrate language. Go fucking team.