- Personnel: Pamela Sixfin, David Angell (violin); Kristin Wilkinson, Monisa Angell (viola); John Catchings (cello); Doug Wieselman (clarinet).
- Recording information: Haptown, Nashville, TN; Hoboken USA; IHOP, Nashville, TN.
- Whether or not Yo La Tengo are being tongue in cheek with the title of their 14th album, POPULAR SONGS does find Hoboken's finest embracing pop song structures with a renewed degree of enthusiasm. This isn't quite the Yo La Tengo "loaded with hits" album, but for a band that's shown an increasing willingness to explore the outer limits of its music in the studio, POPULAR SONGS features nine tunes you can hum along with and sometimes even dance to. "Periodically Double or Triple" and "If It's True" in the first half are two of the most user-friendly songs this band has recorded in quite some time, the former a playfully funky R&B number with a killer bassline and the latter a slice of sweet uptown soul complete with a Hammond B-3 and a polished string section, while "I'm on My Way" and "All Your Secrets" are low-key but beautifully crafted examples of smart pop for grownups that won't insult your intelligence or your imagination. If "By Two's" and "Here to Fall" reflect YLT's trippier inclinations, the melodies give them a firmer backbone than many of their previous gestures in this direction, and "Nothing to Hide" is a bracing and joyous dose of rock & roll.
Rolling Stone (p.84) - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "Yo La Tengo run from pretty acoustic sketches to the 16-minute noise freakout 'And the Glitter Is Gone,' mixing up disparate sounds, if for no other reason than it feels good."
Spin (p.88) - "[T]he vibe stays mellow, and when the soft-sung ballads and gently loping grooves culminate in two jams totaling 21 minutes, the droning results remain restrained."
Billboard (p.52) - "POPULAR SONGS offers nine darkly catchy tracks that recall the band's late-'90s output before shifting gears; the remaining three songs get more experimental."
Q (Magazine) (p.119) - "[D]reamy and succinct pop....It's another fine record to add to their canon."
Pitchfork (Website) - "'Avalon or Someone Very Similar' is upper-register psychedelia, dreamy and chipper....The band indulges its expanded palette by riffing on Motown, funk, and organ-boogie..."
Record Collector (magazine) (p.98) - 5 stars out of 5-- "'Periodically Double Or Triple' is a slice of laidback funk, while 'All Your Secrets' swoons and shuffled like a lovesick, sweet-voiced Lambchop."