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Summer Sun
     

Summer Sun

5.0 1
by Yo La Tengo
 
For the better part of two decades, Yo La Tengo have committed themselves to blazing new paths through rock's densest underbrush, sometimes with a tornado of squalling feedback, other times opting for subtle, stealthier innovation. The trio stick pretty close to the latter approach for most of Summer Sun, the first full-length YLT disc in more than three years.

Overview

For the better part of two decades, Yo La Tengo have committed themselves to blazing new paths through rock's densest underbrush, sometimes with a tornado of squalling feedback, other times opting for subtle, stealthier innovation. The trio stick pretty close to the latter approach for most of Summer Sun, the first full-length YLT disc in more than three years. At its best, as on the ten-minute "Let's Be Still," the results are hypnotizing, practically narcotic in effect. That song, which builds, inch by breathless inch, into a cathedral-like sonic structure, is as minimal as can be -- using little more than muted reeds and looped piano -- but it's a perfect example of how less can be more. Similarly, the band's faithful, pedal-steel laced cover of Big Star's poignant "Take Care" wafts through the air with the slightest of fuss, caressing the skin like a soft summer breeze. When the Yo Las expand their palette -- as on "Tiny Birds," which is buoyed by the cello playing of Antietam's Tim Harris -- they do so without fanfare. Likewise, when they bring in a host of New York's most experimental jazz players (William Parker and Roy Campbell among them) to chime in on "Beach Party Tonight" and "Don't Have to Be So Sad," the recordings are far from self-consciously arty, and a lot closer to a seaside fun fair. A thoughtful, ideal way to unwind on those starry summer nights.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Heather Phares
Three years after 2000's brilliant And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out, Yo La Tengo returns with Summer Sun, an album that's as settled and smooth as the previous one was inventive and eclectic. Musically, Summer Sun continues the band's progression away from intricate, guitar-based pop both loud and soft and toward an arguably more sophisticated sound. This move resulted in masterpieces like I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One, which balanced their roots and their ambitions perfectly; on Summer Sun, it feels a little bit like a retreat. This time around, the post-rock, Krautrock, and jazz influences the band introduced on I Can Hear the Heart and perfected on And Then Nothing dominate Summer Sun, giving it a hushed, polished feel. Sometimes, this approach works, as on the lovely opener "Beach Party Tonight," which sounds appropriately warm and full of possibilities, and "Tiny Birds," a droning, spiralling track that sounds a bit like a fusion of post-rock and Pet Sounds. However, the fusion-inspired instrumental "Georga Vs. Yo La Tengo" and the jammy, ten-minute "Let's Be Still" veer dangerously close to noodling and bloat the album's length to over an hour; unfortunately, there's not quite an hour's worth of interesting music here. Much of this is due to Summer Sun's arrangements and productions: tracks like "How to Make a Baby Elephant Float" and "Don't Have to Be So Sad" are based on lighter-than-air guitars, drums, and synths and topped with whispery vocals. Individually, their understated prettiness works well, but collectively, they're slightly too understated for their own good. When the band does get a little livelier, they deliver some memorable moments, such as the percolating "Little Eyes"; the cute, poppy "The Season of the Shark"; and "Today Is the Day," a Georgia Hubley song that's nearly as gorgeous as "Shadows" or "Nowhere Near." A little more variety in volume and tempo could've made this album great instead of pretty good; for the first time in years, Yo La Tengo doesn't break out the feedback and distortion anywhere on an album. Summer Sun is so mellow and pretty that it feels uncharitable to call it one of their weakest albums in recent memory; many bands would kill to make music this accomplished. But, even though Yo La Tengo can still run circles around other groups even when they're running in place, compared to their best work Summer Sun is merely pleasant.
Entertainment Weekly - Wook Kim
A refreshing cocktail [concocted of]... equal parts Alex Chilton, Gilberto Gil, and early YLT. (B)
NME - Jim Wirth
'Summer Sun' is the crowbar that prises open the door into a world of left-field beauty. (8)

Product Details

Release Date:
04/08/2003
Label:
Matador Records
UPC:
0744861054825
catalogNumber:
10548
Rank:
72042

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Summer Sun 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What's up 24 hour partay people? This is Billy the D coming at you from Hoboken, the home of YO LA!! I go to all of their Chanukah shows every year wearing a yamulke. You're probably all jealous of me, but what can I say? I'm the Billy D and I'm hip! Look for me at the next YO LA show! I'm usually wearing sandals and tie-dye. Word 'em up!