Yo La Tengo returns with their second release of the year, a six-song EP that contains only three original tracks. Why an EP with only three originals when they already released a full length this year? Don’t even ask. The truth is, Yo La Tengo was making quality records when, for most of you, musical talents were limited to reciting anthems in first period with your hand firmly placed on your chest.
The first half of the EP is comprised of distorted pop songs reminiscent of a younger and more prudish Yo La Tengo. The opening track is an abrasive rendition of the song “Today is the Day” from their latest album Summer Sun that lacks the eloquent surrealism of the original. Still, Ira’s driving guitar hooks carry Georgia’s restrained vocals in a Sonic Youth-esque way, bringing a whole new emotion out of the lyrics and still maintaining a sexy aura.
A shift to a calmer and quieter side of Yo La Tengo occurs on the fourth track where Georgia sings a cover of British folk artist Bert Jansch’s “Needle of Death,” followed by “Dr. Crash,” an instrumental track where the guitar and organ soothingly intermingle. The EP concludes with a live, acoustic remake of “Cherry Chapstick,” which lacks the cohesiveness of the pop version but serves as the perfect closing track, leaving the listener with a warm sense of satisfaction.
With Today Is the Day, Yo La Tengo have yet to creep out from the shadows that loom over them, but at least they are not basking in the rays of past light. Today Is the Day is good, but it’s seems Yo La Tengo has stumbled into a common pitfall: trying to outshine earlier, lauded work.
[Edward Kim is hitting himself for not going to ATP and chatting with the Red Hot Chili Peppers.]