Wilco capture their self-portrait on the seventh take:

wilco the album

WILCO (THIS IS IT)

Wilco (From left): Glenn Kotche, Mikael Jorgensen, Jeff Tweedy, Nels Cline, Pat Sansone, and John Stirratt.

It’s fitting that Wilco named their seventh studio album Wilco (The Album). The record serves as a snapshot of the flavors from their previous six. Whether it be the indie rock/Alternative country conglomerates of their early days, the wild turn of the century electronic experimentation, the fuzzed-out barnstorming Crazy Horse guitar attack, or the tuneful sunrise appropriated songs of their latter recordings. All of the little flourishes and brush strokes can be found here as a sonic template for the new album.

It’s easy to get swept up in the tongue and cheek nature of the album’s lead-off track called, what else? “Wilco (The song)”. As the song progresses you become more aware that the track is actually really good. Over a 60’s garage rock groove, it serves as Wilco’s call-to-arms to their legions of fans. Frontman Jeff Tweedy gives you a “Sonic shoulder” to cry on as he sings, “Are you under the impression/ This isn’t your life?/ Do you dabble in depression?/ Is someone twisting a knife in your back?/ Are you being attacked?/ Oh, this is a fact that you need to know/ Oh, Wilco… Wilco… Wilco will love you baby.” “One Wing” is a beautiful forlorn sonic sunset ballad with haunting guitar blurb echoes as Tweedy laments, “One wing will never ever fly, dear/ Neither yours nor mine, I fear/ We can only wave goodbye” before giving way to an outro of guitar pyrotechnics from Nels Cline. “Bull Black Nova” is the cleverly disguised murder ballad dressed in the electronics similar to tunes off Yankee Hotel Foxtrot or A Ghost is Born. Like the spiders from “Kidsmoke”, it creeps across the midnight landscape as Tweedy spins the dark narrative of his freshly murdered girlfriend at his hands now with the dilemma of blood covering everything. There’s plenty more crackling sparking guitar freakouts from the Wilco camp as well in there. “You And I” features singer/songwriter Feist singing a duet with Tweedy on a straightforward mellow acoustic driven track that would fit in perfectly on Sky Blue Sky. “You Never Know” and “Country Disappeared” appear to be slightly ambiguous social commentaries in the vein of previous songs like “Jesus Etc.” or “Ashes of American Flags”. Tweedy comments on every human’s nature to believe their generation has the worst kind of conditions, and are always teetering at the end of times. “It’s a dream down a well/ It’s a long, heavy hell” he sings before the deceptively breezy lush refrain states, “I don’t care anymore.” Like the song’s title suggests, you’d never know Tweedy is singing about the doomsday clock everyone seems to inherently have. “Country Disappeared” is balanced more toward specific times and the current status of America. With the ongoing chaos of an economic crunch it’s not hard to associate with lines like, “So every evening we can watch from above/ Crush the cities like a bug/ Fold ourselves into each other’s blood/ Turn our faces up to the sun.” “Solitaire” is a stripped down Nashville twilight boxcar ride that gives way to perhaps the most accessible track on the record “I’ll Fight”. If the radio airwaves had the room or the desire for Wilco that they deserve, this wouldn’t be too bad of a place to start.Whether it’s singing to a solemn lover reaching out to them in the deepest dark waters, or mirroring “Wilco (The Song)” as a vow to their fans, it’s an enduring tale of devotion as Tweedy sings, “I will go, I will go, I will go/ Into the war’s waters, I will wade/ And I will know without remorse/ Or regret the fairness of our trade.” The final track “Everlasting Everything” is yet another tale of the endurance of love similar to the closer of Sky Blue Sky “On and On and On”. A fitting coda of a band continuing to endure and soldier ahead.

Wilco (The Album) is a fine collection of songs, that may not exactly reach some of the lofty peaks of their previous works. Wilco’s brilliance has always relied on breaking barriers and forging into undiscovered territories like pioneers. It isn’t as stunning in scope as Summerteeth or have quite the ambitious sonic frontiers that made Yankee Hotel Foxtrot or A Ghost is Born 21st Century masterpieces, but by borrowing elements and essential blueprints from those albums and others it comes close. The album is more or less a summary of how far they’ve come. They don’t necessarily offer anything completely new or groundbreaking on this record but it’s ready to embrace you should you allow it. The album will definitely grow on listeners with each spin, unearthing new gems and great moments each time. It leaves fans with a feeling that there’s no telling where they’ll go next, and for Wilco fans that’s a pretty satisfying feeling.

1. Wilco (The Song)√

2. Deeper Down

3. One Wing√

4. Bull Black Nova√

5. You And I

6. You Never Know√

7. Country Disappeared√

8. Solitaire

9. I’ll Fight√

10. Sonny Feeling

11. Everlasting Everything