Fade

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For decades now eclectic indie pioneers Yo La Tengo have smothered our senses with a patchwork of fearless, rich musical textures. Each record containing more ideas in one bar than most bands achieve in a career. Fade is their 13th record since 1986 and is also one of their most tight and structured- 10 songs and 45 minutes in length. And lucky for us it’s a joy. The opening "Ohm" is a manta- like, almost- krautrock lumbering elephant of a song, disappearing into squalling feedback at its close. It’s a great song but not typical of an otherwise gentle and warm record, which mostly recalls 2000’s And then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out (albeit far less sprawling). "Is that Enough" is melodic and straightforward, recalling Belle and Sebastian at their most fey, prim and proper. "Well You Better" follows in a similar glossy manner, and is at this juncture we come to what is both great and (for some) limiting about Fade. On the one hand it is the Hoboken trio at their most controlled and linear, and, yet, many fans will miss the unfurling journeys into the unknown that characterised their masterpiece I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One. Those of you expecting Yo La Tengo as sonic- noise explorers will also be a tad dismayed, off- kilter guitar a la Sonic Youth being replaced by plucked acoustics. But. And it’s a big but. There is a multitude to admire and enjoy about Fade. The shoegaze drone of "Stupid things" is glorious, like a passenger-less train rumbling through a dusky evening, melancholy and plaintive. "Paddle- Forward" tips its crumpled hat to La Tengo’s more garage- rock leanings, Hubley and Kaplan intoning “hang on tight” as  guitars swing loosely at the midriff. Side two is a different beast entirely. A suite of 5 complimentary songs that display the band at their most lush and mellow . The songs are almost ambient in their slow- burning woozy wash,  "Two trains" even recalls Lambchop - managing to evoke hope and loss in equal measure. "The Point of it" is one of the most beautiful songs Yo La Tengo have put their name to and the finger-picked acoustics of "I’ll be Around" drifts by as if in a daydream of summer haze and cicada song. As the cascade of trumpets and horns evanesce in closer "Before We Run" listeners should feel a warm contented glow, and most of all thankful that this exceptional band continue to shine forth and not fade.