Yo La Tengo, ‘There’s a Riot Going On’ - Review
by Bianca Rhodes
Yo La Tengo’s idea of a riot must be quite different from the dictionary definition. ‘There’s a Riot Going On’, the band’s 15th studio album, is a journey through atmospheric, mellow tones, with gentle guitars and ethereal choirs – if it’s a riot, it’s an incredibly quiet one.
The first half of the album moves swiftly through melancholic, oneiric melodies accompanied by soft, whispery singing. Although there is room for experimentation and an interesting use of dissonant noise, the songs seem to merge into a rather numbing chant – almost a bad copy of early Sigur Ros.
The second half of the work picks up slightly: the sounds become more eclectic, the rhythms faster and livelier – there is more of what we recognise and appreciate as Yo La Tengo, particularly in tracks such as ‘Forever’ and ‘Out of the Pool’.
Overall, the album leaves a feeling of bitter dissatisfaction: Yo La Tengo had the potential for further risk by exploring diverse, innovative sounds to produce something truly fresh and outstanding. For a band that’s been active for over thirty years, what ‘There’s a Riot Going On’ achieves is not unimpressive: there’s moments of blissful experimentation, fresh sounds, enchanting rhythms – but there’s no such thing as a riot that keeps quiet.