Though I’m an unapologetic Yo La Tengo nerd who has seen the band countless times and has encyclopedic knowledge of (almost) all of its songs, I’ve been a bit disappointed by the band’s output in the last few years, from 2003’s boring “Summer Sun” to 2006’s hit-and-miss “I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass.” Now the trio presents “Popular Songs,” its twelfth record, and like on “I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One” the band explores all of its strengths, from the pure-pop nostalgic grooves to the mellow tunes to the long, distortion-heavy guitar epics. At this point, you pretty much know what you’re gonna get from Yo La Tengo, and “Popular Songs” is a strong record for the most part. Perhaps the most notable is the band’s decision to place the three sprawling rockers at the end of the record, creating one hell of a half-hour-long coda. (The dreamy “More Stars Than There Are in Heaven” is the best song that the band’s written in years.) Live, of course, Yo La Tengo remains incredible, so the strength of the record hardly matters. (Tom Lynch)
October 6 at Vic Theatre, 3145 N. Sheffield, (773)618-8439, at 7:30pm.