This Stupid World
The wistful, slightly uncertain feeling you get from a Yo La Tengo album isn’t just one of the most reliable pleasures in indie rock; it practically defines the form. Their 17th studio album was recorded nearly 40 years after husband and wife Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley decided that, hey, maybe they could do it, too. This Stupid World’s sweet ballads (“Aselestine,” “Apology Letter”) and steady, psychedelic drones (“This Stupid World,” “Sinatra Drive Breakdown”) call back to the band’s classic mid-’90s period of Painful and Electr-O-Pura, whose domestications of garage rock and Velvet Underground-style noise helped bring the punk ethic to the most bookish and unpunk among us. Confident and capable as they are, you still get the sense that they don’t totally know what they’re doing, or at least entertain enough uncertainty to keep them human—a quality that not only gives the music its lived-in greatness, but also makes them the kind of band you want to root for, which their fans do with a low-key fidelity few other bands can claim.