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This Stupid World cements Yo La Tengo's position as legends of indie rock

"This Stupid World"

Release date: 10 February 2023
Yo la tengo this stupid world art
11 February 2023, 00:00 Written by Amaya Lim

At some point in the career of a mainstay indie group like Yo La Tengo, innovation and imagination become optional.

Like a diver reaching freefall, it is quite possible to coast; anniversary edition; remaster; live album; reunion tour; rinse, repeat – straight into retirement and remain respected, revered even. It is arguable that the early displays of the genius of these cornerstone bands are so great that even attempting to continue down such a path is inadvisable; better to quit while you’re ahead.

With every new release – seventeen and counting – Yo La Tengo refuses this logic. On their newest effort This Stupid World, they further cement their position as legends of the genre, delivering an original take on the kind of indie rock they basically invented. While the band has worked with Roger Moutenot (Lambchop, Guster, Sleater-Kinney) and John McEntire (Broken Social Scene, Stereolab, The Sea and Cake) in the past, they chose to produce This Stupid World themselves, conscious insulation clearly heard in the raw, live sound of this record. They return to the loud and messy ethos that earned them critical acclaim and a cult following in the nineties after a recent run of more folk-oriented albums, rejecting any assumptions that they might age out of their youthful garage rock roots.

Everything in this record seems to rest on nostalgia, right down to the lyrical content. Recalling an iconic line from I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One’s “Damage”, “I used to think about you all the time / I would think about you all the time”, Ira Kaplan sings on standout track “Apology Letter”: “Then I got mad / Because you got mad.” Such simple but poignant couplets define Yo La Tengo’s legacy as much as their guitar tones and straightforward vocals.

While at points the record is forceful to the point of being noisy, especially midway through the seven minutes of distorted guitars on the titular track, the band’s embrace of chaos is relevant to the recurring theme of resistance; Kaplan sings “Stay alive / Look away from the hands of time.” The sense of immediacy and urgency that pervades the album is coupled with realism and lucidity, a line the band walks expertly. On This Stupid World, Yo La Tengo proves they are still relevant arbiters of rock.

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