Album Review: This Stupid World – Yo La Tengo

By Venus Rittenberg, Editorial Director

[Matador; 2023]

Rating: 8/10

Key Tracks: “Fallout”, “Aselestine”, “Until it Happens” 

Yo La Tengo is back with another fantastic record. For a band who appeared to be past their prime (and has appeared that way for a while), this is phenomenal. This Stupid World is the best the band has sounded in nearly a decade, with their last great release being Stuff Like That There in 2015. That was an acoustic album with few originals, and while it was amazing, it was a departure from the band’s usual variety of sounds, instead focusing on one of their styles. It wasn’t anything new, but lacked the variety the band was known for.

Read more: Album Review: The C.I.A – Surgery Channel

This variety returns over the album’s relatively short number of tracks. This album is a mere nine songs, as opposed to bigger Yo La Tengo albums like I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One (a personal favorite album of mine), but still manages to encapsulate the wide range of quintessential Yo La Tengo techniques. 

The first single from the album, “Fallout,” is an easy highlight. It sounds just like classic Yo La Tengo. The chorus is catchy but fuzzy, dreamy and woozy just like a good noise pop should be. The second single, “Aselestine,” is the best song on the album. Featuring Georgia Hubley on vocals (she always sings on the best Yo La Tengo songs), the song is beautiful with tragic lyrics. It depicts the pain in a dream-like manner due to the atmosphere of the guitar-led instrumental. It feels like medicine, making you drowsy, but in a good way, like settling down for a cozy pre-sleep cup of fruity, herbal tea.

The album’s second half is admittedly weaker than the first, but it still contains highlights. “Brain Capers” is a bit of an old-fashioned Yo La Tengo noise pop banger. “Miles Away,” the closer, is captivating to the last second. The only song I’m not at least a little enthralled with on the album is actually the title track, but even then, it’s alright, just not the most interesting they’ve ever been. Yo La Tengo clearly still has the chops to make a fantastic record, as they’ve delivered a strong contender for one of the best indie albums of the year within the first couple months.

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