Popular Songs

Sweet, then sad, then awesomely sunny, Yo La Tengo plays to every emotion in Popular Songs.

It’s hard for a band with 15 albums to still seem fresh, but somehow Yo La Tengo does just that. Tracks that sound part jam band, part sensitive-guy indie rock, make up Popular Songs, Yo La’s latest addition to a beloved body of work. If anything, this album is proof of the band’s ability to merge lengthy instrumentals with upbeat pop songs. The muffled, dreamy vocals of “By Twos,” which would be at home on a Sofia Coppola movie soundtrack, may have you thinking, “Oh, man, I’m getting kind of sad,” but then “Nothing to Hide” follows, which is all good-times guitar. Building on this emotional rollercoaster, “Periodically Double or Triple” will have you pulling two pens from your desk for a knee drumming sesh. The end of the album is mostly instrumental, and you may wonder if you’ve been listening to the same song for, like, 24 minutes. But don’t question the destination; just enjoy the ride.

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