I knew Yo La Tengo were old and I knew they had released some very culturally important albums in their past, but to be honest the first album I ever sat down and listened to by them was their 2013 release, Fade. The definition of chill wave in my mind is Fade. I have no real idea if their earlier stuff is anything like this, but Fade was my most listened to album of the year simply because of how easy it was to just throw on at any time. The songs are tranquil at their softest and maybe a little hazy at their loudest offering the perfect album to relax to. At times the reverb and distortion used on the guitar can feel chaotic, but the pacing of each song is never hurried allowing the peaceful theme of the album to remain constant.
Ira Kaplan’s vocals are a very important part of the band and I would say more important than the fuzzy guitar playing and smooth bass lines. He whispers into the microphone, murmuring his thoughts and stringing his words together in such a way that they flow like water down a gentle stream. When he sings over the tracks with less distortion and more acoustic guitar playing, like “I’ll Be Around,” he sounds so humble and genuine. The intricate strumming and plucking of each note is spellbinding and Kaplan just magnifies it all with his lull. Easy albums to listen to are not always significant and game changing, but they are always enjoyable to hear and that’s all that matters sometimes.