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  • Nathan Weakley

Springtime Albums

Hey everybody, the sun is out and Chicago looks beautiful bathed in yellow light. People are happy, babies are smiling, and small animals are all over the streets. Here are some albums to listen to this spring.

De La Soul - 3 Feet High and Rising  (1989)

Good things come in threes. I’ve loved this album since I was fourteen. It’s so much fun. The production is lo-fi, but soulful and sweet. It really doesn’t sound like anything else, and the vibe it cooks up is its own– to the extent that I have a hard time shuffling it with anything else. Positive, breezy, and cool. The production kicks out nothing but bright colors. Of course there are classics like “Me Myself and I”, “The Magic Number”, and “Eye Know”, but as good as those tracks are, if you just listen to those, you’re missing out on all the playful, clumsy stuff in between that makes this album what it is. Historically, it’s interesting too– in the musical era of N.W.A. and Public Enemy, De La Soul put out a work that was more nuanced, less scathing, but nonetheless critical, parallel to New Wave's succession from Punk– but all of that is beside the point. You can dance to it when it’s sunny out, and that’s the important thing. 

Yo La Tengo - Summer Sun (2003)

In my opinion, this album was named poorly. I wonder if they put any thought into it at all– on the album cover, they’re wearing winter coats, so who can say? Nothing about it makes much sense (a track called “Beach Party Tonight” is one of the saddest and slowest on the album), but it all feels good, and that’s the beauty of it. All of the other Yo La Tengo records, I think, are best either for winter (Painful, Sounds of Sounds of Science) or late summer (And Then Nothing…), but this one is perfect for the spring. It’s restful, hopeful, rejuvenating– it feels like something getting thawed out, basically. I can’t exactly explain it. The songs just drift coolly and float through the air. At no moment do they fall or unravel like Yo La Tengo’s more progressive work. It’s just lovely. And I don’t use that word lightly. 

Vampire Weekend - Only God Was Above Us (2024)

Listen, I’ve been a Vampire Weekend hater for too long. But now I’m starting to attribute that to an irrational fear of khaki pants– the music is very fun. This new album is their best, I think. Every sound is so beautifully textured. Tracks like “Prep School Gangsters” and “Capricorn” are as catchy as anything they’ve ever written, but the traces of electronica and even shoegaze they introduce dampen the radiant warmth of previous albums. That really only serves to make the happy moments feel more divine, though. It’s wistful, reflective, but still light-hearted. “Mary Boone” is an incredible track in every way, and so is the lively “Classical”. Altogether, Only God Was Above Us, is a work from what feels like a matured Vampire Weekend looking back wistfully at the young Ivy-Leaguers they used to be. If you haven’t heard it yet, I promise you’re going to love it. 


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