“Here to Fall” – Yo La Tengo

Half of the time I love what Yo La Tengo does, half the time I’m not sure I understand it. This falls squarely into the first half. After its odd, electro-echoey intro, “Here to Fall” simmers with that paradoxical low-level intensity that YLT consistently brings to the studio–a product, in part, of the juxtaposition of Ira Kaplan’s plainspoken, softspoken vocals and the churning noise the trio can produce. And yet the noise here isn’t really that noisy, featuring as it does, right in the middle of the mix, the unlikely but thoroughly agreeable addition of a small string section, which somehow brings to mind the sorts of strings we used to hear on old Elton John songs (Paul Buckmaster fans out there, anyone?).

But don’t overlook the guitar work, which is characteristically crazy brilliant without calling any attention to itself. And don’t overlook the additional crazy brilliance of the unadorned melody, barely differentiating verse and chorus, which, cycling inexorably forward, attains a dark grandeur as the guitars burn and the strings melodramatize around it.

“Here to Fall” is a song from the band’s forthcoming album, Popular Songs (their twelfth), which is slated for a September release on Matador Records. MP3 via Matador.