Yo La Tengo Stays Mellow And Assured

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Friday's Pick

  • Song: "Periodically Double or Triple"
  • Artist: Yo La Tengo
  • CD: Popular Songs
  • Genre: Pop-Rock
Yo La Tengo 300

"Periodically Double or Triple" indulges Yo La Tengo's goofier side, complete with stream-of-consciousness pop-culture references. courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Along with its aging alt-rock peers in Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo has hit an exceptional musical stride decades into its career: Starting with 1997's masterful I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One up through 2006's I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass, the Hoboken-based trio has fine-tuned its collective talent for crafting everything from dense, feedback-drenched jams to quiet, intimate love songs.

Don't expect that run of success to end soon: The first single from Yo La Tengo's 14th album (Popular Songs) is a summer-appropriate, beach-blanket boogie — the kind of song that could inspire just about any aging hipster to tap a Converse-clad foot. "Periodically Double or Triple" is a marvel of spare instrumentation, built on the careful syncopation of Georgia Hubley's minimal drum thwacks, James McNew's slinky bass maneuvering and Ira Kaplan's spiky guitar riffs and far-out Farfisa organ stabs. (Heads up, Will Ferrell fans: There's plenty of cowbell action here, too.)

Lyrically, Kaplan, who's proved to be a master at crafting gorgeous, detail-laden love songs like "Last Days of Disco" and "How to Make A Baby Elephant Float," chooses to indulge in his goofier side with stream-of-consciousness references to Marcel Proust, Vitamin C and Judge Judy. Still, "Periodically Double or Triple" is all about the groove — comfy, mellow, assured and what you'd expect from a trio that's been playing together for years.

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