On their 13th full length studio release over nearly 30 years, Yo La Tengo have very comfortably settled into the big comfy couch of domesticity. Aside from the bouncier bits of Popular Songs, late period work from Ira Kaplan, James McNew and Georgia Hubley has largely shunned the feedback laden excursions they built their career on. Starting with 2000's And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out, Yo La Tengo entrenched themselves (on record at least) in lilting, heavy lidded numbers--similar in spirit, but not so much in letter to the more downtrodden moments of their earlier recordings.

All that being said, each album still retained its own personality in many ways. And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out was nocturnal, Summer Sun was pastoral, I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass was punctuated jaunty piano driven numbers with hints of early noise, Popular Songs was nearly as bouncy and playful as its title suggested. Fade continues the mostly nocturnal stretch, but as a whole represents Yo La Tengo making the most Yo La Tengo-ey album possible. Kaplan, McNew, and Hubley take the best moments of all those recent efforts and distill it into something achingly beautiful. They show that Yo La Tengo, even when working in all their forms can still put together an album of immediate and emotionally affecting songs after all these years.

'Paddle Forward', which is admittedly a standout for this fact, is the most notable break from the mostly subdued affair. Opening with a burst of feedback before settling into some classic Hubley and Kaplan vocal interplay, the track holds closer to their shambling 90s affairs than the narcoleptic overtures of the early aughts. It represents a high water mark, energy-wise, on a record where such moments are scare. Even 'Stupid Things', the driving lead single, builds its chug around the burble of a synth and a clattering drum before Kaplan's listless guitar dispels any mounting energy. Its soaring and simmering--and largely kept afloat by swelling strings in the chorus--but if you're into Yo La Tengo for the searing guitar solos, this might be the latest in a string of disappointments. Instead Kaplan puts emotive songwriting at the forefront. 'I'll Be Around' pairs the wildly evocative and impressionistic lyrics that Kaplan so often casts with nothing more than fingerpicked acoustic guitar and distant organ drones.

Fade is, in many ways, a more intimate affair than And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out which seems the record that it will draw most frequent comparison to. Where And Then Nothing lost itself in formless before dawn meanderings, the tracks on Fade are more pointed explorations of the same aesthetic. 'Cornelia and Jane' takes a lightly plucked electric guitar as the basis for a classic Georgia Hubley vocal take--pure and maternal, beautiful and wholesome. It's a voice to lose yourself in, and over distant strains of slide guitar and horns it feels somehow closer than its ever felt on these quieter songs. And Then Nothing was Yo La Tengo's premiere effort in stripping back the noise to reveal the raw emotion beating at the center of their songs, but Fade reconstructs that stripped down emotion into pop songs.

It's not an effort that surpasses its spiritual predecessor so much as succeeds at a different goal. You might belittle Fade in saying that it's the first time they've attempted more of the same, but despite aesthetic similarities, their ideological aims were different. Yo La Tengo have been at this pared back songwriting for years now, and with the relative misstep of Popular Songs three years into the rearview, they set out to take the smoky spirits of these beloved albums and distill them into catchy pop songs. If nothing else, they've accomplished that goal, and written some of the best songs of their career in doing so. Not too bad for a band that's gone through this process twelve times over.