Yo La Tengo: "Before We Run"


By Maura McAndrew | 29 November 2012

Some bands like to take long curtain calls, with the standard, bombastic, thirteen-minute opus, while others find their show should best come screeching to halt without warning. Closing out an album is difficult work, after all, but Yo La Tengo is just one of those bands skilled at finding the right balance, the right tone: though their album closers occasionally settle on the long side, every Yo La Tengo album ends on a note of perfectly appropriate calibration. And “Before We Run,” closer off upcoming Fade, is one such note, swelling and elegiac without choking on grandiosity.

“Before We Run” may be classic sleepy Yo La Tengo: Georgia Hubley’s wise and weary voice takes lead while sputtering drums and warm guitar work their somnambulant way into a fuzzed-out horn interlude, recalling Neutral Milk Hotel, and triumphant string arrangement. Like many of Yo La Tengo’s best songs, “Before We Run” uses a standard verse-chorus structure only as launchpad for the ensuing four-minute dreamy mood-piece. Though we haven’t yet heard what else Fade has to offer, hearing “Before We Run” now is like my once-pretentious fourteen-year-old practice of reading the last page of a book first. Doesn’t give too much away, but how can anything bad precede an ending this good?

What the song lacks in thematic originality (chorus: “Runnin’ away from here / Runnin’ away to stay”) it makes up for in sheer, ineffable Yo-La-Tengo-ness, that certain je ne sais quoi that breathes confidence through almost two decades of recording together. They’re so comfortable in their sound, YLT is like a big fuzzy blanket, appealing to just about everyone and applicable to just about any occasion. “Before We Run” does nothing but fit their -ness to a T.

► “Before We Run”