Even within their warm, now familiar sound, we’ve seen many guises from Yo La Tengo over the years, from grounded noise rockers to Burt Bacharach enthusiasts. This latest incarnation of the band on Fade, their 13th album, pulls from several of these but is most in line with their mellowed out 2000 album And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out. This is great news for fans, as that was one of the band’s classics. Fade begins typically with a long, contemplative piece entitled “Ohm” that sets things up for a subdued affair. The next couple of tracks are consummate minimalist pop pieces, but the band turns up the guitars for “Paddle Forward,” a gorgeous slice of indie guitar pop that reminds us why young bands like Yuck and the Slumberland clan pull liberally from Yo La Tengo. By the time we’re halfway through the album, the droning, breathtaking “Stupid Things,” it’s clear we’re listening to one of the better Yo La Tengo albums, an improvement over 2009’s Popular Songs. Its release couldn’t be better timed, either. You just want to curl up with Fade like an electric blanket and relish in its radiance.
The Deluxe Edition of Fade adds on a disc of demos, live versions and outtakes. The outtakes, especially the spare, moving “Move to California,” are largely strong enough to have been included on the original album, while Yo La Tengo’s unpredictability as a live band means the live versions aren’t just lesser renditions of album cuts. “Ohm” is stripped down to an acoustic guitar without losing its droning appeal, while the melodic “Is The Enough” moves naturally to acoustics, recorded live at NPR Music. Perhaps the most surprising track is an EYE remix of “Stupid Things” that cuts up the original into a digital stew of startling beats and transitions. It’s yet another reason to check out Fade, another mellow, brilliant listen from Yo La Tengo.