Fade starts with James McNew and Ira Kaplan harmonizing on the line "sometimes the good things fade." Maybe they're singing about record sales? They're definitely not singing about their band, which remains as consistent and reliable as ever. Fade is relatively restrained and digestible for a Yo La Tengo album — it's only 10 songs, the longest inside seven minutes, with no extended jams, guitar mutilations, or dreamy bliss-outs. A song doesn't have to be outsized to be epic, though, as proven by closer "Before We Run," which takes a minimalist beat and beautiful Georgia Hubley vocal and gradually adds guitars, strings, and horns. Fade is a low-key collection of hushed ballads heavy on atmosphere, momentarily enlivened by the Krauty flirtations of fuzz rocker "Ohm" and the motorik beat of "Stupid Things." Tortoise's John McEntire steps in for long-time producer Roger Moutenot, but any of these songs would fit perfectly on the band's last half-dozen albums.
GARRETT MARTIN »GARRETTRYANMARTIN@GMAIL.COM