Yo La Tengo are a musical institution, a band of such legend and influence that they almost comprise a genre unto themselves. Over the course of nearly 30 years and more than a dozen albums, they've perfected a sound that's consistent but never stagnant, eclectic but rarely overreaching. They're a band's band, with a vast discography that encompasses everything from extended guitar freak outs and 15-minute epics to gentle folk numbers and nearly perfect pop songs. Released earlier this year, the group's newest album, Fade, sees them reigning in the ambition just a smidge (at a mere 46 minutes, it's their shortest record in more than two decades) while sacrificing none of their characteristic song craft. This is an obvious summer album, full of subdued, delicately layered instrumentation and beautifully hazy melodies. And while Fade may lack the immediate hits or reckless energy of some of YLT's earlier recordings, it's an extremely mature, confident album that's a definite grower. Yo La Tengo's performance this Thursday at the Wonder Ballroom (billed somewhat intriguingly as "(An Evening with) Yo La Tengo" – no opening acts here) promises to be an inspired event, and will hopefully feature an extended guitar freak out or two.
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