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Yo La Tengo | This Stupid World | Album Review

Yo La Tengo This Stupid World Vinyl

It’s funny; when I think of a modern indie rock band that’s been around for some time and never really took a hiatus, I can’t help but think they formed when I was in high school. And by that I mean the mid to late 90s. Enter Yo La Tengo, who just released their LP This Stupid World in 2023. The band formed all the way back in 1984. That’s closing in on 40 years!

Members Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley, and James McNew are the band’s current members but regardless of who was in the band in 1984, there are 16 previous studio albums per Wikipedia (if you count 2020’s We Have Amnesia Sometimes which was technically more of an EP. 

On the folk-ier end of noisy rock or even shoegaze, Yo La Tengo’s sound has always been a bit elusive to describe, and it’s morphed and remorphed over the years. It would take a true die-hard fan to do a proper review of This Stupid World—one well versed in all 17 albums, a crap ton of singles, and a few compilations. 

Get This Stupid World on vinyl from Amazon.

While I am a fan, I haven’t dug through it all, so note this review comes with that caveat. I mean even Rolling Stone calls out Yo La Tengo’s vast library:

Even a diehard fan might struggle to pass a multiple-choice exam where you have to match a list of their song titles with the album they were on, but that sense of familiarity and constancy imbues every new release with the feeling of checking in with old friends.”

This Stupid World Album Review (Rolling Stone, 2023)

Top Tracks by Yo La Tengo

Yo La Tengo is no stranger to crafting a moody track. “I’ll Be Around” off 2013’s Fade (available on Amazon) and both “Autumn Sweater” and “Stockholm Syndrome” off 1997’s I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One (available for a limited time on yellow vinyl from Amazon) stand out as career favorites, and while none seem to hit those heights right off the bat from This Stupid World, as a whole, the band’s 2023 offering seems to flow more cohesively and masterfully than the albums I’ve devoured in their entirety. 

Even Pitchfork hints at this, noting:

Where other Yo La Tengo albums have often felt discursive, This Stupid World feels focused and lean, the work of a band that needs to tell you something now.

This Stupid World Album Review (Pitchfork, 2023)

An ambient but heavy, shoegazy but psychedelic drone, which is, to once again coin Rolling Stone, “violent and lovely.” It’s harsh while also beautiful, noisy while feeling sparse and bare, urgent yet approached with all the time in the world. It’s contradictions are where it thrives, and it does so with such surprising effortlessness and precision that it’ll take your breath away.

My top track picks include “Sinatra Drive Breakdown,” “Fallout,” and “Miles Away” though in truth the album’s cohesiveness stands among some all-time favorites. Immediately coming to mind is the impression I got when I first heard 23 by Blonde Redhead from 2007 or even Hey What by Low from 2021, noting the effortless flow and impeccable track listing. 

That again arises here on This Stupid World, and my intuition tells me that this album will ultimately join those as an all time favorite.

This Stupid World Vinyl Pressing

A few notes on the vinyl version. 

The vinyl version comes with an untitled, instrumental bonus track, which is the only one on side D. Side B ends in a locked groove where the other sides do not. 

Don’t forget to check out my YouTube coverage of This Stupid World below:

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