Tengo’s Popular Songs crosses genre boundaries

If you’re in the mood for literally any kind of song, then Yo La Tengo’s latest album, , is perfect for you. Formed by a married couple and their friend, the band’s latest album runs the gamut of different music genres, from psychedelic rock to peaceful acoustic.

An alternative band with a strong, cult following, Yo La Tengo is known for performing a wide variety of music as well a vast number of cover songs.

Never featuring a dull moment, this album contains a song for any kind of listener, whether one prefers fun rhythms or music with a spacey, more cosmic feel.

With such a wide range of songs, it’s difficult to review such a schismatic general album; it is preferable to examine each individual song. However, each song does exhibit a preference for looped melodies and drawn out build-ups.

The album starts off with “Here to Fall,” a mix of chill rhythms and a mildly jazzy piano accompaniment. The song has the feel of spy movie theme and the music video of skywriters helps enhance this cool, relaxed feeling.

The next song, “Avalon Or Someone Very Similar,” marks a 180-degree shift in tone, capturing a pleasant, acoustic sound. The song’s cherubic female vocals, light drums and guitar all create a very pleasant environment for the listener to be lost for 3 minutes, a short song compared to the rest of the album.

The music video for this song is a simple scene of kites in the park, serving to highlight the relaxed, almost “hippie-ish” nature of the song.

“By Two’s,” another radical shift in tone, follows “Avalon.” This song continues the “hippie-ish” feel.

However, the focus is changed from “earth” to “sky,” continuing the peaceful sounds, but replacing the pastoral feel and nature setting with otherworldly tones and psychedelic, spacey sounds and rhythms.

The esoteric feel of “By Two’s” is contrasted with the next song, “Nothing to Hide.” Bringing us back down to “earth,” the song “Nothing To Hide” contains a classic rock sound and grunge feel. The slight element of grunge and group vocals reminds us of this band’s alternative roots.

“Periodically Double or Triple” continues the trend of “earth” music, but switches the traditional alternative music to a more groovy, funk trend.

The song in general carries a fun, crazy feel exemplified by light, fast drum beats and a music video featuring nothing but literal messy eating. The song also features heavy solos by the Rhodes piano, an instrument that hasn’t been often featured since it was made famous by Ray Charles in .

“If It’s True,” the next song, uses an orchestra intermixed with optimistic, positive lyrics to create a cheerful uplifting feel. While the song may lack the complex groove of some songs and the spacey feel of others, this cheery tune is perfect for keeping your spirits up.

This is followed by “I’m On My Way,” another uplifting song with lyrics and hushed male vocals similar to that of Pink Floyd.

“When It’s Dark” brings us back to the peaceful “hippie” feel. This song continues the nature imagery featuring music reminiscent of the Beatles and Jethro Tull.

“All Your Secrets” continues to mimic the style of the Beatles, featuring a soft contemplative ballad with nostalgic lyrics. Many of the band’s songs feature a style reminiscent of the Beatles music and lyrics.

The last three songs are substantially longer in length than the previous nine totaling about 10 minutes each.

“More Stars Than There Are in Heaven” resonates with that slightly grungy rock feel, while “The Fireside” works as a soft, acoustic ballad. The schizophrenic album ends with “And The Glitter Is Gone” which again takes us from soft, acoustic melodies back to the grungy, alternative rock.

Music is said to be an art form that demands violation of its previous rules in order to be beautiful. Every musical movement can be seen as a reaction to an earlier one. In that sense, this album succeeds, giving the listener a vast array of very different songs and sounds.

While you may not like every song on this album, the wide range guarantees that there’s something for anybody.