As they’re prone to every ten years or so, Yo La Tengo have released yet another record made up of mostly covers.
Something Like That There features fourteen songs, nine of which are covers, three of which are remakes of old songs with the remaining two being fresh offerings from the group. The overall sound of the record is gentle, lovesick and best suited for a kindergarteners nap time, with clean, plinking guitars, soft, cooing vocals, gallons of reverb and half-hearted harmonies.
Oftentimes, covers are a great way for a band to either breath new life or shed new light on a song, but unfortunately, the majority of Something Like That There does neither. The vocal deliveries are pretty, but it often sounds as if they’re just reciting the lyrics without giving any attention to the emotion or meaning behind the words and melodies, making most of the songs fall flat.
The Hank Williams cover of “I’m So Lonely I Could Cry” is nice, but half as exciting, or genuine as the original, while the coffee shop rendition of The Cure’s classic “Friday I’m In Love” is so smugly self aware that it’s hard for the listeners to care.
The record regains some interest when the band reimagine their own songs for “All Your Secrets” and “Ballad of Red Buckets,” with the rest of the album finding its stride during the middle section with “Before We Stopped To Think,” “Butchie’s Tune,” and fellow Hoboken natives Special Pillow’s “Automatic Doom” being notable numbers.
The two new songs from the band are not bad, but equally un-spectacular, with the entire last third of the record continuing its pattern of innocuous coffee shop music. This is a shame, as on their own, most would be fine, cutesy covers, but after ten songs of the same slow and boring, you begin to realize that this is a record strictly for Yo La Tengo completists and would be perfectly okay to skip over as it’s likely you’ll here some of the songs being used as background music in movies and trendy restaurants.