Yo La Tengo
Today is the Day ep
/matador; 2003/



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I was really disappointed by Yo La Tengo’s Summer sun last spring because, despite good moments, it sounds like a compilation of b-sides. Its overall peaceful atmosphere tends to get boring. On the contrary, this 6 songs ep is fine. The band doesn’t explore here its idiosyncratic way of playing jazz which is amusing at best (‘Nuclear war’, ‘Georgia vs YLT’).

The stand-out song ‘Today is the day’ was my favourite one on the above-mentioned album in which it is clearly a voiced sequel to the instrumental ‘Green Arrow’ (from their still astounding I can hear the heart beating as one), both of them evoking late sultry starlit summer night refreshed by a pleasant lazy rain which tries to make up for its being late. Yo La Tengo offers here a lovely catchy electric version of it which discards the romantic atmosphere but treasures the original melodies and surrounds them with alluring guitars.

Considering the sluggish contents of Summer Sun, this ep could almost be taken as a return to greasy guitars. The three first songs seem to build up intensity and to refer to Yo La Tengo’s particular slack indie-pop shoegaze style (‘From a motel 6’, ‘We’re an American band’). ‘Styles of the times’ and ‘Outsmartener’ even strongly evoke The Velvet Underground, the first one mainly thanks to casual vocals and the second one thanks to noisy arrangements. ‘Outsmartener’ is also nicely conspicuous for its chorus close to Batman’s theme and its completely charming entwined male-female vocal delivery (somehow recalling Stereolab).

This ep ends with three nice quiet songs. ‘Needle of Death’ is a pleasant hushed cover of Bert Jansch that towers above the original. ‘Dr Crash’ is an inoffensive instrumental track and ‘Cherry Chapstick’ is better than on And Then Nothing… even though the version is similar??? It might be because it doesn’t suffer from being stuck in the middle of other long tracks. It is easier to make a good ep than a good album… Anyway, this time Hoboken rules.

-SEB ‘Green Arrow’ WOOd.

ps: except for ‘Cherry Chapstick’, YLT’s previous full length was soothing but it did not seem stuck in sluggishness and did not need a change of scenery like this one that becomes dull because there is not a single song which builds up intensity at some point, which is frustrating since we know they can do it in a very slack personal way (‘We’re an American band’).

/jan 15th 2004/