WILCO Wilco (The Album) (Nonesuch)

After the esoteric experimental exercises of Yankee Foxtrot Hotel and A Ghost Is Born, I was very satisfied by Wilco’s return to basics with Sky Blue Sky, which contained some of the warmest material the band has ever produced. So when the release of seventh album – Wilco (the Album) – was announced, the big question was which direction would Wilco take?

Well, glad to report that Wilco has chosen the middle path with the new album, retaining the old school classicism of Sky Blue Sky and mixing it up with free-spirited experimentalism. You might say that Wilco (the Album) is Jeff Tweedy and co’s White Album.

Thus on the opening four tracks (viz. Wilco (the song), Deeper Down, One Wing, Bull Black Nova) Wilco reveals their game plan – razor sharp melodies, classic pop-rock references, studio sound effects and first rate instrumentation/arrangement. Astutely constituted in the midst of recording with the studio used as an extra instrument, Wilco (the Album) has aspirations of being a rock masterpiece of the calibre of Who’s Next or Something/Anything.

The rest of Wilco (the Album) covers diverse grounds, including rustic folk-rock (You And I – a duet between Tweedy and Feist), Todd Rundgren-channeling soul-pop (You Never Know), Dylanesque conceit (Country Disappeared), alt-country-folk (Solitaire), cheesey 60s bop (I’ll Fight), edgy post-punk (Sonny Feeling) and piano ballad (Everlasting Everything).

Something for every sophisticated lover of mature pop-rock. Does Wilco (the Album) conclusively establish Wilco (the band) as the band of this decade? Based on the evidence, it’s an argument that’s pretty hard to refute.

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