Yo La Tengo have been making some of the best American indie music for 30 years now. Their new album, Stuff Like That There is a sort-of companion piece to their classic album Fakebook which contained re-imagined Yo La Tengo songs and selected cover versions. For this new album, the concept is the same. Also, the trio become a quartet with guitarist Dave Schramm joining Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley and James McNew.
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It doesn’t matter how hard you try, there’s no avoiding comparing this record to 1990’s superb ‘Fakebook’. This was the one where Yo La Tengo stopped making a racket, stripped down their sound to barely a whisper and raided their record collections for the finest songs you’ve never heard. It really was a great collection that just never ages.
Yo La Tengo were once my go to band for pretty much any sound my pretty little ears could crave but over the last few albums I've sorta lost interest despite everyone telling me that everything was still ok in the YLT world. Therefore I’m pretty pleased they’ve done this - I could listen to this sound day in, day out. It’s beautifully drifty and Dave Schramm the guitarist who sprinkled his magic over ‘Fakebook’ is back to work his wizardry once again. It’s a mixture of generally well chosen covers, the odd re-worked track and a couple of new compositions that fit in nicely done in a nicely old fashioned style. Opener ‘My Heart’s Not In It’ is a lilting country lollop, they weep their way sadly through Hank Williams ‘I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry’ and their new compositions fit in between just fine. They have that breezy laid back nature that only comes from listening to the Velvet Underground’s third record over and over again.
The sticking point for a few reviewers so far has been their take on The Cure’s ‘Friday I’m In Love’ - it’s completely lovely of course but is perhaps just a little too familiar a tune amongst the downcast tones found elsewhere and in the company of hidden gems such as Great Plains magnificent ‘Before we Stopped to Think’ it just seems a little too obvious a move. That said this is a wonderful listen. It sounds like it was recorded about a week after ‘Fakebook’ and mysteriously the band haven’t aged either. Again like 'Fakebook' a totally timeless record.
9/10 The Doc 18th September 2015
Covers albums are funny things. Quite often they’re throwaway affairs, knocked out without much thought to fulfil an awkward bit of contractual obligation, or worse, a sign that a band is shit out of ideas and are struggling to reconnect with their audience by showing off obscure songs from hidden corners of their record collection. The 1990s provided two welcome exceptions to this in the form of Mark Lanegan’s peerless I’ll Take Care Of You – possible the greatest covers album ever – and Yo La Tengo’s sublime Fakebook, in which the indie noiseniks ditched their usual racket to showcase a far more sensitive side, years before Nirvana made it fashionable with their seminal Unplugged set. Anyone who has ever fallen for Fakebook and its breathless charm will be instantly smitten by this. It’s Fakebook II in all but name, and you could quite easily package the two records together as a double LP set without anyone ever noticing they were recorded 25 years apart. This is another fantastic collection of curios played in a stripped back fashion, with lashings of languid upright bass, gently strummed guitars and Georgia Hubley’s lovely whispered vocals prominent throughout. The Cure cover is as good as you’d expect – although it has to be said, you’d have to be pretty ham-fisted to fuck up such a great song – but the real highlight is the opening track My Heart’s Not In It, in which sets the tone for the rest of the album beautifully. Equal parts a record for playing while sitting in the garden enjoying the last of the summer sun, or for a dark night in front of the fire, this is a worthy addition to the band’s fantastic back catalogue, and one sure to be cherished by long-term afficionados and newcomers alike.
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