review: Wilco (the album)

I’ve been waiting for a new album by Wilco since I saw them touring in August of 2007. The new album has the same line up that I saw tour the Sky album and played on Kicking Television so I have high hopes and expectations. When I first listened to Sky Blue Sky it didn’t blow me a way but the more I listened the higher it climbed and is right behind A Ghost Is Born at the top of my favorites.Wilco the album

Sky is an outstanding album with Impossible Germany surpassing Via Chicago, Hell is Chrome, Radio Cures and Ashes of American Flags as my favorite Wilco song. Hate it Here, listened to for an hour and 1/2 on auto repeat while driving aimlessly up and down the coast helped me finally get over the greatest heartbreak of my life. You are my face, convinced me to buy a VW (not really but I did buy a VW at that time) and Seeds is another top favorite.

So Tuesday, I excitedly headed over to the local store to get my copy hoping for the best. My first impression was that the album is a good solid fun. The cover photography, a growing interest to me is creative, fun and unique. Nice choice and just bold enough to say “we know who we are and can do what we want and don’t have to impress anyone anymore”. I think this realization and comfortableness with who they are characterizes this 10th album. From the album name (Wilco the album), the title song (Wilco the song) and the comfortableness in creating good songs that span the diverse musical styles of the Wilco catalogue this album says we are who we are and we like it.

So musically besides being a good representation of their overall body of work nothing stood out as blow me away creative and ground breaking the first time through but neither did the subtleties and creativity of Sky. The more I listen though the more it grows on me. I still haven’t found anything that is going to challenge my top favorites but (the album) is going to get regular rotation in the disc changer.

The first song Wilco (the song) is just good clean fuzzy guitar catchy tongue-in-cheek fun. It is good to know that no matter how depressing life can get that Wilco loves you baby. Deeper down has some Jeff Tweedy’s characteristic creativity and power in lyric images, By the end of the bout, he was punched out; Fists capsized, muscles shouting; Deeper down; He felt the insult of a kiss. The third song One Wing another great song that the more I listen the more it reminds me of the subtlety and beauty of At least she said and Seeds.

The middle of the album is definitely the high point so far for me. Bull Black Nova is some of the most creative and most disturbing and unsettling music. The music provides the perfect anxiety builder to match the disturbing lyrics of one overcome by the murder they just carried out. You and I a duet with Canadian singer Leslie Feist follows and the sweet love song is a welcome relief to the anxiety and dissonance that Nova left us with. Leslie’s beautiful voice entering and exiting the lyrics throughout the song is perfect and a great match to Jeff’s voice.  You never know and Country disappeared are great songs drawing on the 70’s classic rock influences. Solitaire is a nice slow acoustically driven song to close out the middle of the album.

The final third starts with the catchy 60’s folk rock sounding song I’ll fight with a great illusion to his dedication being like Jesus dying on the cross for his own. I’m sure there is some mockery here but it is still a great image. Sonny Feeling is a celebration of the alt-country roots of Wilco. I expect to see them playing in the Road House behind a chain-link fence with Patrick Swayze catching a guy’s knife wielding boot in mid-air to and dropping the elbow on the knee to clean out  the dingy honky tonk. The album ends with a good strong ending dreamy song that inspires me to loop right back to the start with Wilco (the song) to start the fun over again.

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