Fifteen albums into their career, New Jersey’s Yo La Tengo have always been one of the underdogs of US indie. Never as melodic as Pavement or as outright alternative as Sonic Youth, they surfed the right side of cool, never too far over the commercial line.
Fuckbook, released via an alias the group first performed under almost exactly a year ago, won’t help. Masquerading as a 90s punk group from Connecticut is all well and good but the joke seems to be solely that they like 60s and 70s pop rock (Small Faces, Richard Hell, Kinks, Slade), and cover it without breathing anything into it. What’cha Gonna Do About It never sounded so tired, or as much like a practice session warm-up. Gudbye T’Jane drips along dolefully and you even find yourself waiting for The Kid With The Replaceable Head to end.
The story goes that Condo Fucks “record sleeves” appeared in Yo La Tengo’s actual inner sleeves as early as 1997 and developed into something of a fans’ holy grail, an insider joke. Perhaps at first it was funny or provocative, but it just seems like a tired concept on this evidence.