Yo La Tengo :: Fade

Recently, I was thinking about artists who have been around awhile and whose work has been labeled as 'influential' at one point or another. Thirteen albums into their career, Yo La Tengo certainly falls into that lot. But what makes a listener care about their new music? It's an interesting question. Why should I care about Fade when I have Painful and I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One in my collection already? More over, does this new music lend a different lens through which to examine their older work? What, potentially, makes this essential Yo La Tengo listening?

Fade is defined by its opening and closing tracks. They are the two longest songs on the album and in the case of the former, it gives the record its defining lyrical mood. "Ohm," as the track is called, has a homophonic double meaning. "Nothing ever stays the same / nothing's explained...'cause this is it for all we know / so say goodbye to me / and lose no more time...resisting the flow." Ohms, of course, are the SI unit for electrical resistance, but it's also pronounced the same as the mystical syllable that is used in Hinduism, Buddhism and other religions to represent, among other things, the single vibrating sound that connects all of the universe. And "Ohm" is nothing if not a vibrant and hypnotic song. As the consistent drum beat propels the song through its time, everything seems in service of the song's whole sound. Nothing is out of place, nothing distracts from the song's mantra. "Before We Run," the album's closing song, is made by its horn section, a triumphal song of uncertainty, of eyes-forward and of counting on the support of others to grow and evolve. If "Ohm" is the beginning of Fade's chant, the beginning of its meditation, then "Before We Run" is the closing moments, the finishing breath.

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