Wilco – Wilco (The Album)

Wilco - Wilco (The Album)

Wilco - Wilco (The Album)

The strength in Wilco‘s music was always their successful ability to re-create themselves with every new album. There were the country stylings of A.M., the double album, role reversal of Being There, sharpening their pop leanings with Summerteeth, the experimentation on Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, the furthering of styles and diversity on A Ghost is Born and the live setting, laid-back feel of Sky Blue Sky. It’s hard to really pin-point a band’s catalog in such a way that it seems off-putting, however, Wilco has always been a band’s band, and one of the best ones, at that.

For many, including yours truly, Sky Blue Sky felt like a firm setback after following the sprawling, terrifically-arranged and presented, A Ghost is Born (appearance must be key when you win a Grammy for Best Packaging.) In favor of adopting a jam setting, the band, with newly added guitarist Nels Cline, set out to record in their loft where they could be free and spontaneous. Unfortunately, that album lacked the loose vibe they so tried to convey, and although it was a fine album on its own-I mean, it’s Wilco-it definitely wasn’t their best effort. And now, this brings us to Wilco (The Album), an album fittingly titled: it’s all we love about the band, packed into one awesome album of music.

Creativity and sheer musicianship are on the prowl on this new triumph. Forget the fact that as a live band they are gelling and flowing better than ever, the music on Wilco (The Album) sounds effortlessly constructed. When you’re the kind of band that can still make startlingly gripping music without any air of pretention, then you have something to hold your head up high about. And for that, Wilco has every single right and motive in knowing that a cover with a camel, with six empty chairs (one for every member) and with that title and a song, “Wilco (The Song)”, to boast, well, it’s quite all right if you ask me.

On the topic of that song, it leads the album in pure vintage Wilco style. An absolute rocking joy to hear, it’s “Can’t Stand It” all over again-a throwback to the band’s sound ten years ago, when they released their best album to date, Summerteeth. And the glory lies in its lyrics, playful but downright serious; it’s an ode of support to any fan of Wilco, when asked “Someone twisting a knife in your back, are you being attacked?” Tweedy re-affirms, “Oh this is a fact, that you need to know…Wilco will love you baby.”

Diving deep into a floundering amount of stunning music, Wilco sound like any smart and resourceful band, except here, they are true masters of their craft. “Everlasting Everything” starts off with “A Day in the Life” piano and as those drums roll around the corner, if that’s not Ringo Starr inside the spirit of Glenn Kotche, then I don’t know what to think. The influences are stark and direct and they provide an operable amount of skill; just the mere fact that a band with such a reputation is still channeling The Beatles is utterly remarkable and very welcome. And much like Kraftwerk made an appearance on A Ghost is Born‘s eclectic music, “Bull Black Nova” is yet another chiming, repetitive, blurry mess of greatness. Cline’s guitar rattles with feedback, Tweedy’s singing is emotional while maintaining a certain charm and the reverberating instrumental climax showcases the guitars battling in an elusively telling yet, compelling manner.

Ultimately amassing as some of the best work the band has ever done, Tweedy’s singing is once again, one of the many stars of the show. His enunciation on “I’ll Fight” is ridiculously catchy, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone not constrained to want to sing in such a rousing and affecting manner. And on his duet with Feist on “You and I,” his vocals are so supremely executed, it’s a back-handed compliment to Feist to note that she truly proves who the better vocalist is, if you get my point. And on the varying set of stops and starts on “Deeper Down,” Tweedy submerges himself in the water-heavy submarine of the music, adjusting his tone and timbre to match the music’s style at that specific time.

They’ve been a band for a solid decade and a half now and are continuing to gain new fans with every new release. When you are making music that is this powerful and blisteringly captivating, what can anyone really argue? Wilco (The Album) is just another wonderful and special reason to know that Wilco, as a band, are an astounding band for all to love-or at least as much as they say they love us.

Nonesuch