Yo La Tengo's thirteenth LP is permeated with startling confidence and clarity, unpretentious in its accessibility and masterful in the art of understatement.
Opening track 'Ohm' is a bright, dreamlike anthem that gradually layers simple, subtly evolving elements which amount to a psychedelic crescendo in slow-motion. 'Cornelia and Jane', another standout, sees Georgia Hubley's gentle falsetto vocals drift over guitar melodies reminiscent of Death Cab For Cutie's Translantacism. It's all very soothing, like a day at Centre Parcs without the extortion.
This level of quality isn't entirely consistent throughout, however.'Is That Enough' and 'Well You Better' veer dangerously close to the sickeningly twee, a problem seemingly endemic to underground indie-rock. John Lennon would have called it 'granny shit'. While these songs aren't badly written, its likely that their appeal will be restricted to those who wear Christmas jumpers when it's not Christmas and would give anything to be Michael Cera. But these are rare instances. The majority of Fade is a catchy, economical and sincere effort, full of natural light and positive vibes. It's unlikely that it will garner mainstream success, but at least Yo La Tengo's status as a sacred cow of discerning critics remains secure.
Best Tracks: Ohm, Paddle Forward, Cornelia and Jane