Popular Songs

  • Record Label: Matador
  • Release Date: Sep 8, 2009

Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 25
  2. Negative: 0 out of 25
  1. As fine as those nearly 16 minutes of controlled chaos are, it's the first half of Popular Songs that you're more likely to come back to, where by thinking in a small space Yo La Tengo have challenged themselves a bit and beautifully risen to the occasion.
  2. Stylistically sprawling and experimental music can be fantastic in the right hands. As lesser bands come and go in the fickle landscape of indie rock, Yo La Tengo continue to excel.
  3. Experience can be a crutch, an excuse to tread water in comfortable waters. But Popular Songs wears its age well, a calm but firm reminder of an indie rock perennial it's all too easy to take for granted.
  4. Uncut
    Yo La Tengo's 12th album finds them operating well within their comfort zone but it's no less delightful for the absence of envelopes being pushed. [Oct 2009, p.123]
  5. Mojo
    It's surely their most eclectic. [Oct 2009, p.103]
  6. Playing like a welcome sequel to 2006's style-hopping "I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass," Yo La Tengo's 16th studio album finds the New Jersey trio bringing out Farfisa solos and celebrating ongoing couplehood.
  7. Popular Songs is as essential as anything Yo La Tengo have ever released, and perhaps even more so--an album that looks back at where they’ve been, smiles, and stares resolutely forward to what will come next.
  8. Under The Radar
    On Popular Songs [the new] twists are particularly flashy and strikingly retro. [Fall 2009, p.68]
  9. Popular Songs may not quite scale the same heights as those found on "I Am Not Afraid Of You..." or "I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One." It is, however, another really good album by Yo La Tengo.
  10. What stops it from being an incongruous mishmash is the mood of intimacy and exuberance: you might be hanging out with them in their basement studio, sharing the jokes, shivering with delight.
  11. As usual, they sound less like imitation than a band remaking its record collection in its own image.
  12. Though the band deserves props for pulling off fuzzy, exuberant three-minute romps ('Nothing to Hide') and ponderous, 11-minute space-folk wankery ('The Fireside') within the span of one album, the results are inconsistent.
  13. Here’s Yo La Tengo as embracing, alienating, and prolific as ever, with another strong new album, Popular Music.
  14. That these experiments hit their mark is a testament to how shrewdly Yo La Tengo has crafted their aesthetic over the years: They know exactly how hard and in what direction to push.
  15. As far as conclusions about Popular Songs go, it’s fair to address the reader not as a consumer of the music, but as someone breezing through its clean, familiar architecture. You should check this place out. It’s pretty sweet, and I think you’ll like the light.
  16. Popular Songs finds the band crafting solid indie rock that is more by-the-numbers than Yo La Tengo has been in the past.
  17. As it stands, Yo La Tengo has created a solid gold collection of nine tracks.
  18. Popular Songs, the trio’s 16th album, is another pleasing installment of cleverly assembled songs that unite homage and originality.
  19. Despite the 26 minutes wasted by these final tracks, as damning as that sounds, this is still a very good Yo La Tengo record.
  20. While Popular Songs may contain few surprises for long-term admirers, it is nonetheless a contrary beast in that it demands to be heard in a single, complete sitting.
  21. There’s so much to love about Popular Songs and whether you think it’s the outstanding collection of music, the superb style choices, the fantastic lyrics or all of the above, it’s clear that Yo La Tengo is winningly superb.
  22. You still get an album's worth of pristine, beautifully constructed songs that enhance Yo La Tengo's literate reputation.
  23. Yo La Tengo has little to prove at this point in its 20-year career, but its dedication to expanding its sound without obscuring its songwriting formula remains impressive.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 14 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. NicolasI
    Sep 10, 2009
    It's really great.
  2. [Anonymous]
    Sep 9, 2009
    Another great album from one of the finest bands around.Go and buy all of theit stuff-you can't go wrong.