On their dense, careworn new LP (their fifteenth studio effort), indie stalwarts/college rock heavyweights Yo La Tengo have shown that can still bring fresh ideas to the table, despite the album being fifteen tracks long, and it being over thirty years since their first album.
The Sly and the Family Stone nod of the title turns out to be more than just a wink, as the press kit identifies similarities between the fraught political climate during the creation of both records. Yo La Tengo’s reaction to the troubling times we live in? Creating a pillowy, lush record that veers more towards the dreamier side of their supple sound – a dream-pop record for a near-dystopian world.
The motorik shoegaze of “For You Too” highlights Ira Kaplan’s soothing, balmy voice on top of fuzzy bass and a pulsing beat. Another standout is the lo-fi tropical vibe of “Let’s Do It Wrong”, which sounds kitschy and gorgeous and comforting.
“Polynesia #1” features glistening, glassy guitar alongside seductive, gossamer-fine vocals from Georgia Hubley, and warm, lean bass from James McNew. A particularly emotional, lump-in-throat moment comes with the delicate, deliberate chords of “Dream Dream Away”, which seem to quote Tom Petty’s “Free Falling”. It’s a beautiful (probably unintentional) moment of synchronicity between intelligent artists wanting their listeners to just… breathe for a moment.
Final track “Here You Are” ends the album on a particularly somnambulistic note. It drones, rises and falls in a way that you’d expect an Eno record to. If you persevere right until the end of the record, the final minute or so gives way to some leaden, thumping percussion that serves to break the reverie and return you – completely bereft - to the real world.
It’d be odd to not mention the length and breadth of such a respected band’s revered catalogue of records, but this album really does speak for itself. With the resurrection of My Bloody Valentine rolling on at a glacial pace, listeners would be much better off getting their fix of heartfelt sonic intoxication from Yo La Tengo, who with this record have probably become the most reliable band in the world.