Yo La Tengo’s new album There’s a Riot Going On will be released on Friday 16 March. This is a warm, ambitious record, a striking self-produced creation from one of the most celebrated and adventurous bands in rock history, whose dynamic range touches on pure noise and serene beauty and everything in between.
For Yo La Tengo this is a slow-motion action painting, and Georgia Hubley, Ira Kaplan and James McNew did it all themselves, in their rehearsal studio, with no outside engineer (John McEntire later did the mix). They did not rehearse or jam together beforehand; they turned on the recorder and let things coalesce. Songs came together over long stretches, sometimes as much as a year going by between parts.
In 1971, when the nation appeared to be on the brink of violently coming apart, Sly and the Family Stone released There’s a Riot Goin’ On, an album of dark, brooding energy. Now, under similar circumstances, Yo La Tengo have issued a record with the same name but with a different force, an album that proposes an alternative to anger and despair. There’s a Riot Going On is an expression of freedom and sanity and emotional expansion, a declaration of common humanity as liberating as it is soft-spoken.