This “review” of Yo La Tengo’s “This Stupid World” is a companion piece to a “review” of MooM’s “Plague Infested Dump of the Future”. I explained some of my reasoning for talking about two completely different albums in that article and you are welcome to check it out if you feel inclined.
Yo La Tengo is one of my favorite bands of all time. The smooth symphony of sounds creeping up from the speakers to take my head into a comforting cradle leaves a lasting impact in my mind. The joy for music I have while listening to Yo La Tengo isn’t easily explained. (But who can really explain their emotions?)
In the past year of dragging “This Stupid World” around in my head, letting it bounce off the cavities of my brain, helping it incite hunger and different kinds of fear, I have truly enjoyed familiarizing myself with this album.
This album was the first in a few years that Yo La Tengo (YLT) released with what they call a “live sound”, and it takes us back to the well-loved sounds the band produced in the past (quote from their Bandcamp). “This Stupid World” was released on February 10, 2023 and released under Matador Records. The band includes Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley, and James McNew.
Where’s the World’s Stupidity?
I don’t dislike a single track on this album. I could spend hours writing and re-writing my thoughts to try and accurately reflect my love and attention for these songs, but I don’t have time for that. As the opening song, “Sinatra Drive Breakdown” is a magnet for your ears. Thwumthwumthwum. The guitar and the bass beats into my ears and I’m enamored immediately by the beauty of fear that time is running out.
A little more upbeat, “Fallout” is a great followup to “Sinatra Drive Breakdown”. It still sinks back into regret and time’s manipulative interactions with our lives. Filled with the emotions of people that have been working in the music business for decades, YLT knows what “falling out of time” would allow them to see and feel. I can’t put it into words, but I don’t have to because YLT does that for me.
Hubley’s dreamy vocals are backed up by a beautiful and simple guitar along with ethereal background tunes to put our minds at ease as we turn towards regret once again. How are we not supposed to regret the silly things that we each perceive as mistakes? “Aselestine” is YLT’s acceptance and voice of beauty in the regret of not using our time efficiently because there’s beauty in mistakes.
Ah, the title track. How could any band not fall in love with their album’s title track? In this song YLT imbues every loving feeling they have into the deep throaty hums of their guitar, the echoing shakes of a tambourine and of course a quiet outcry from the vocals. YLT has the world’s attention when it complains about “this stupid world is killing me/ this stupid world is all we have”.
What A Stupid World
Yeah, this world is stupid. This world is also beautiful. And, as I mentioned in MooM’s album review, this world is filled with anger. In both “This Stupid World” and “Plague Infested Urban Dump of the Future” there exists the convoluted threads tying all of these unique expressions of emotion together.
Both YLT and MooM have their niche of people listening to their music. People filled with anger and surges of vengeance, and/or people lost and trying to find a way to accept that time isn’t going to give them what they want. (Both of these types of people are feeling the same thing but they react to their emotions differently). By appreciating the viewpoints of both these unique artists, we can find the beauty in the rage and the disgust in our fears.
Yo La Tengo will be in the Raleigh area later this year to perform live at the Haw River Ballroom. If you’re a fan like me, you might end up there.