Yo La Tengo, 'Popular Songs' (Matador)

Popular Songs
Critical Mass

by Barry Walters

Critics embraced 2006's I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass because it leavened the Hoboken, New Jersey trio's sprawling guitar orgies with the band's sprightliest tempos in ages. Its subtle successor shuffles back to sleepyville: Even as the BPMs accelerate, the vibe stays mellow, and when the soft-sung ballads and gently loping grooves culminate in two jams totaling 21 minutes, the droning results remain restrained. And that's okay. Yo La's strength is a marital intimacy that's paced for the long haul, not a sprint.



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