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Album Review: Wilco (The Album)


I'm not a Wilco connoisseur, exactly, in that I don't know every song by heart or every nuance of the variations in their discography, but I do own many of the band's albums and I am seriously stoked to see a whole new one emerge from them, titled simply Wilco (The Album). The album is streaming in its entirety right now (you can take a spin through it here), so I took a little listen.

Just like the funny/cute cover, many of the songs have a spirit of playfulness to them, even as many of the lyrics remain typically sad or ominous. It's more spunky rock than it is country-ish, as some previous albums have been, and overall it's a really well-rounded and satisfying album. Wilco fans will probably be pleased to hear some familiar sounds, but the music is still imaginative and interesting enough to hook new listeners. I'm digging it. For more of my thoughts on the individual tracks, read more.

"Wilco (The Song)" — Appropriately, "The Song" with the same name as "the band" is quintessentially Wilco-y. It's got a great beat, wail-y guitars, a fun melody — I can easily imagine this making it onto Summer mixes, played loudly while driving around with the windows down.

"Deeper Down" — This one has something of an Andrew Bird quality to it, with the unusual sounds of a whimsical, other-worldly realm. It's a lovely, surprising tune that feels like the soft soundtrack to a forest journey scene in a movie.

"One Wing" — Compared to the first two, "One Wing" seems almost sparse and simple with its drums/guitar/vocals combo. I love that the drums are featured alone in the beginning; later the song picks up steam with the repetition of some sad lyrics: "One wing will never, ever fly, dear, neither yours nor mine/ I fear we can only wave goodbye." I like this song, but if I were in a down mood it might just push me over the edge.

"Bull Black Nova" — Using cool staccato piano sounds and a drumbeat that chugs steadily along, this song has some dramatic flair and a feeling of forward motion that keeps my attention. It's a little long and rambly but still solid, distinctly Wilco stuff.

"You and I" — With the addition of Feist's pretty voice, "You and I" is a soft little relationship song that's most notable for the vocal duet which, despite lyrics asserting that "You and I might be strangers/ however close we get/ sometimes it's like we never met," lends a delicate intimacy to an otherwise fairly ordinary tune.

"You Never Know" — Playful piano, a tune and backup vocals that remind me of some other time period in music history, a catchy chorus — I think this song will rock when played live, everyone bopping about and singing along.

"Country Disappeared" — Soft and dark, the bittersweet "Country Disappeared" seems like something the band would play in a smoky bar to a small audience in the wee hours of the morning. It's pretty and a little mournful.

"Solitaire" — With light, folky guitar strumming and gentle vocals, this tune is like taking a quiet break in the middle of the album, and I appreciate the change of pace. The lyrics connote, of course, solitariness, but there's a hopeful sound to the song itself.

"I'll Fight" — There's a country twang lingering in the background of this dramatic and ominous-sounding song, giving a homey feeling to the stubborn, assertive lyrics: "I'll fight, I'll fight, I'll fight, I'll fight for you, I will, I will, I will/ I'll kill, I'll kill, I'll kill, I'll kill for you I will." It's a great song; I especially enjoy the use of the organ.

"Sonny Feeling" — The second-to-last track picks things up again with a real toe-tappin' rock tune. By this point I'm just marveling at how different each of these songs sounds, from track to track. And for some reason this song makes me want to buy a pickup truck.

"Everlasting Everything" — Like some of the band's previous tunes, this one goes back and forth, starting out soft and tender and then building to a crescendo of sound and emotion, then easing back down to soft again. I like this one as a last song, especially the final, dreamy moments.


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