Pin It
Favorite

CD Review 

by Mike Corrigan


The cover of Summer Sun depicts the members of Yo La Tengo (Georgia Hubley, James McNew and Ira Kaplan) in a blur, bundled up against a cool, wet, overcast day. It's just the kind of gentle humor and satisfying juxtaposition of darkness and light one would expect from this smart, unassuming band. It's also the perfect introduction to the aural niceties found within the album's 13 cuts.


Friends who haven't been over to Yo La Tengo's house in awhile might be taken aback by the softness and quietness here. But you who have paid attention will recall that long ago the band began a measured segue from the no wave they cut their collective teeth on to something resembling a highly idiosyncratic and intelligent stab at easy listening. Summer Sun finds the Hoboken, N.J., trio playfully creating mood music for 21st-century moderns -- with just enough uncertainty, introspection and subtle dread to keep things interesting.


The feedback -- and the noisiest guitar skronk this pop side of Sonic Youth -- that are used to define the group's sound have been almost completely replaced by drowsy atmospheres, gentle rhythms and arrangements that owe at least as much to jazz as they do to rock. The constants are Georgia and Ira's intoxicating and (at times) narcoleptic vocals and the group's occasional forays into surf and Latin.


"Little Eyes" rocks -- a little bit -- as Georgia's buttery voice melts into the warm, rumbling background sonics. "Today is the Day" wistfully exposes regret tempered with resignation against a pocket of echo-saturated slide guitar. Ira's "Moonrock Mambo" is agreeably loopy.


There are a few noticeable lulls on Summer Sun -- spaces where I find myself longing for sleepy-bye ("Nothing but You and Me" doesn't do much for me, nor does the instrumental "How To Make a Baby Elephant Float"). And overall, it lacks a certain visceral appeal: It certainly won't offend anyone in the office except maybe that guy with the Accused leathers in the cubicle next to you. But it's lovely, too, in its resolute, unapologetic sweetness (note the spiraling sax-flute lightness of "Let's Be Still"). And Georgia's rendition of Alex Chilton's "Take Care," which closes the album, is appropriately heartbreaking and haunting.


Here's hoping Yo La Tengo never tires of sending us snapshots from their little corner of the world.





Publication date: 06/05/03
  • Pin It

Latest in Comment

  • Hiring Among Friends
  • Hiring Among Friends

    What's wrong with this picture? Todd Mielke wants the top job in Spokane County and his colleagues get to decide
    • May 20, 2015
  • Walking to Where, Exactly?
  • Walking to Where, Exactly?

    Publisher's Note
    • May 20, 2015
  • Too Early to Tell
  • Too Early to Tell

    What's your opinion of Emily Farris? Hint: You probably shouldn't have one yet
    • May 20, 2015
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue
State of the Spokane River

State of the Spokane River @ REI

Thu., May 28, 7-8:30 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Mike Corrigan

  • Lights, Camera, Skate
  • Lights, Camera, Skate

    Two local artists have transformed their love of skateboarding into a new variety show on Community Television.
    • Dec 14, 2011
  • Time Travelers
  • Time Travelers

    For some local store owners, finding intriguing merchandise isn’t just business, it’s an obsession.
    • Nov 22, 2011
  • For Your Consideration
  • For Your Consideration

    A raucous good time from Thee Oh Sees. Plus, vintage horror and a Berlin filmmaker to check out.
    • Nov 22, 2011
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • This Old House

    If it could talk, it could tell stories of three generations, along with a lot of griping from neighbors
    • Apr 29, 2015
  • On a Roll

    Just-announced reforms do little to safeguard Spokane against the danger of oil trains
    • May 6, 2015
  • More »

© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation