Yo La Tengo’s Stupid World

“This Stupid World,” by Yo La Tengo, was released on Feb. 10, 2023, under Matador Records. This album slightly deviates from their popular bittersweet style, but instead emphasizes more of the bitter, than the sweet.


gaelenh via Wikimedia Commons

Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley, and James McNew have been together since 1984, with this being a picture from their 2009 tour. Through the last 39 years, Yo La Tengo has released seventeen studio albums, with “This Stupid World” being the newest addition to the discography.

Jackson Mitchell, Staff Writer

Yo La Tengo’s “This Stupid World” is a mesmerizing masterpiece that showcases the band’s signature blend of dreamy indie rock and fuzzy experimental pop. From the opening track “Sinatra Drive Breakdown” to the haunting closer “Miles Away,” the album takes the listener on an introspective journey through themes of love, loss, and the surrealness of modern life. The band’s trademark three-part harmonies and guitar interplay are in full display throughout the record, creating a lush and immersive soundscape that never fails to captivate the listener’s attention. 

With love and loss being the most relevant themes throughout the project, it’s no wonder each song feels emotionally charged in its own way. In the opener, “Sinatra Drive Breakdown,” we can hear band member Kaplan beautifully tell us “I see how it ends, I see the moon rise and the sun descend.” This line is a general reference to the concept of loss as a whole. Past the vocals, Kaplan doesn’t stop after seeing how it ends, and gives us an intricate guitar solo before the song mellows out and closes calmly. 

Combining love and loss in “Apology Letter,” the lyrics take us through an incredibly emotional story about an apology letter and the struggle to vocalize one’s feelings. We can see this in the lyric, “it’s so clear what I’m trying to say but right on cue, the words derail on the way from me to you.” It shows the difficulty of getting one’s emotions across vocally to another person, which is a terribly relatable experience for most. This song also illustrates Kaplan’s concern of this other party not caring for what he has to say, especially prevalent in the line, “and I cannot bear to look to see – if these apology letters returned unread.” This line adds additional context to the metaphorical derailment of words, going further into concepts of the difficulty of apologizing and owning up to your mistakes along with expressing your feelings as a whole.

Moving on to one of the biggest topics to try and tackle through music, the surrealness of life, Yo La Tengo did not back down from the challenge. In the beautiful title track “This Stupid World,” the audience is given a seven and a half minute music marvel. We hear Kaplan sing “this stupid world, it’s killing me, this stupid world, it’s all we have.” This line explores the feeling of the world being against you, but trying to accept it, for it’s all we have. 

Going further on the topic of the uncontrollable world, the project focuses on wanting to escape from the abstract motions of the world in “Fallout.” Repeating over 10 times throughout the track, the line “wanna fall out of time,” is Kaplan explaining the feeling of wanting to have time stand still for him and the universe continuing around him. This line rings bittersweet through the ears of the listener as it portrays the happiness of escape and the struggle of moving forward, while wanting to fall out of time. 

This feeling is continued in the following track, “Tonight’s Episode.” While it offers Kaplan’s view of someone thinking he is crazy for the way he feels, with lyrics such as,“you’re looking at me like I lost my mind – like I’m hanging by a thread.” Although the person the line is directed to is not directly stated throughout the track, it could be taken as the way someone could consider another person “crazy” after they admit to something like wanting to fall out of time.