Review of Summer Sun Single by Yo La Tengo

Yo La Tengo - Summer Sun
Yo La Tengo - Summer Sun (released 07.04.03)

Some albums are made to be listened to in preparation for a night out. 'Summer Sun' offers every excuse to stay in. If you are thinking about doing just about anything then a quick burst of Yo La Tengo's latest release guarantees to provoke instant inactivity through its insidious, somnolent harmonies. This is the eleventh album from America's foremost jazz/country/punk group, consisting of husband and wife duo Ira Kaplan (guitars/vocals) and Georgia Hubley (drums/vocals), plus James McNew (bass).

There is a jazz sensibility to the recording with frequent understated saxophone interludes complementing the piano bar keys and whispered vocal contributions of Kaplan and Hubley. If that is the starting point for the tracks on 'Summer Sun', then each develops in diverse directions, from the throbbing bass line and beats of 'Nothing But You And Me', to the sonic experimentation of 'Lets Be Still' via the deliciously funky 'Moonrock Mambo' - every track rewards repeat listening.

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There is a seam of disguised positivity throughout 'Summer Sun' with the lyrics drenched in the potential for loneliness and pain, but always offering an escape route: "You need someone to hide behind, I don't mind."

'Season Of The Shark', is the sweetest and arguably greatest song of the year to date, with sumptuous Hawaiian guitar licks and, layers of melody, it touchingly acknowledges and counters the despair: 'You sink so low you even blame the sun, As the cause of the shadows on the wall, They are not so bad as they appear."

Yo La Tengo have created a deceptively summery album, but have shunned the obvious cars and girls era Beach Boys reference point. Instead, they have made a great napping album, designed for snoozing in the garden on the hottest day of the year. An album that is both blissed out and beautiful.

Gavin Eves