Home Hear Classic Album Review: Yo La Tengo | Summer Sun

Classic Album Review: Yo La Tengo | Summer Sun

The indie trio's 10th LP is better suited to a moonlight drive than a day at the beach.


This came out in 2003 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


With a title like Summer Sun, you’d expect this latest pleasant dispatch from Hoboken indie icons Yo La Tengo to be overflowing with zippy melodies, breezy grooves and songs about surfing and soaking up rays. Psych!

In reality, these 13 cuts continue the cooling trend that singer-guitarist Ira Kaplan, his drummer wife Georgia Hubley and bassist James McNew have been on for some time. Unlike the noisy guitar-based intricacy of their youth, the beauty of Summer Sun’s tunes comes from their simplicity and intimacy. Over understated yet groovy drumbeats, bossa nova beatboxes and scritchy backdrops that produce a woozy ambience, you’ll find effects-drenched guitars, ringing piano chords and horn lines that intertwine into a vibe midway between post-rock and jazz-pop — the perfect setting for the hushed crooning and gentle harmonies that dominate these tracks. Sure, some of these melodies are poppy enough to qualify as summertime songs — but as the soundtrack to a moonlight drive instead of a day at the beach.


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