Yo La Tengo's most recent release, "Summer Sun," is a smooth and mellow swirl of polished soundscapes. But for those who want something a little rockier and grittier, "Today is the Day!" is the answer. Call it "Summer Sun's" shadow side.
The influence of this EP's parent album ends before it begins, with a blasting bass line underlying the formerly mellow "Today is the Day." The remaining five songs are a mix of vaguely fuzzy rock (the murmury "Styles of the Times"), straightforward pop where the ante is upped ("Outsmartener"), and just pretty, experimental sounds (the pretty "Needle of Death" and gently catchy "Dr. Crash"). It ends with a murmur rather than a bang, with a slow acoustic cover of 2000's "Cherry Chapstick."
There's an experimental feel to "Today is the Day!", a mixture of different musical styles. It's like Yo La Tengo is trying on several pairs of shoes to see what fits them best. The first few songs are the weakest on this EP; they crackle with energy, but sometimes get lost in their own instrumentation. By the third song, "Today is the Day!" has found its footing.
Generally the musical difference here is when a loud song is made soft, or a soft song made loud. In "Today is the Day," there's just a heavy guitar/bass line that separates it from its more mellow "Summer Sun" version (not to mention the "crazy double-reed horn"). And strange as it sounds, one of the riffs in "Outsmartener" sounds just like the Batman theme song.
"Today is the Day!" is a nice addition for fans of Yo La Tengo. For newcomers, it's a good illustration of their musical versatility, and just how rocking or pretty their music can be.