Yo La Tengo: Summer Sun

Yo La Tengo
Summer Sun

When it's said that a band reduces everything to a yawn, the line is usually meant to pock their integrity. But when the band is Yo La Tengo, that statement is more often intended as a compliment. And why not? There's always been something inherently lazy if not laid-back about them, and they have the rare ability to turn a drowsy murmur into a soul cry. The idea that 2000's pokier-than-usual And Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out was some kind of major stretch from YLT's usual sound has always been bewildering. Getting loud and speeding up is not the same thing as rocking out (not with that rhythm section, at least)--even when guitarist Ira Kaplan does his best "What Goes On" impersonation or drummer Georgia Hubley picks up the fucking pace already.

So meet the new Yo La Tengo, same as the old Yo La Tengo, only slower and quieter. Way slower and quieter: Summer Sun contains a ten-minute song with the no-argument-here title "Let's Be Still," and frankly, you have every right to be worried: There are flutes on it, and they belong there. But that track is only the most sustained example of the way the album accomplishes plenty without seeming to move a muscle. "Beach Party Tonight" sets the tone, with three minutes of lambent sound-bubbles finding their way to the music's surface, only to pop prettily upon contact. The nearly-Hawaiian slide guitar and sleepy vowel-exercise vocals of "Today Is the Day" form the backdrop of the group's latest ode to first shy, then enduring, companionship: "I was gonna spend the night/Could've been okay/We were gonna talk all night/Till I went away...A minute later, I'm older/And can't stay away." So, instead, they opt to lie in bed and cuddle: They watch TV with the sound off and read each other the newspaper and watch the summer sun turn to twilight.

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