Wilco : Whole Love : for MikePat

Here ya go MikePat, sorry it took so long:

(yes, I respond to your comments and now take requests!)

The new Wilco : Whole Love. Overall, fairly great.  The best/worst thing I can say is “ more of the same”.   But let me elaborate…….

…….I’ve read as much whining about this record as I’ve heard it praised.  Most of the praise is along the lines of “sounds more like Yankee Hotel Foxtrot or Ghost is Born”.  Umm… okay. I think I understand what people mean by that: those are their two
favorite Wilco records and they just can’t understand why they can’t keep making these two records over and over……”

Well, Wilco now have their own label now, record in their own studio and keep moving forward, albeit in their own way.  Let’s talk about the record:

Art of Almost starts things off with a proclamation of styles more than a fully formed song.  I understand why people were so excited about this track upon first
inspection.  It has about 4 tempo changes, some atmospheric electronics, and Nels Cline actually does some straight-up guitar-shredding.  (We know white people love Wilco, and white men particularly are always looking for some sort of Joe Satriani, geetar reepa….!) Well, all that extra accoutrement sounds great, but it wears off quick.  Art of
almost is actually one of my least favorite songs on the record.  It’s a showpiece to draw you in.  The treasures are buried deeper, in the slower, more subtle songs.

I Might sounds more like the mid-tempo rockers that Wilco excel at.  This is a great “settle-in” song (as second ones can be).  It does feature one of my favorite lines on the album: “you won’t set the kids on fire, but I might…”  Dawned On Me is also classic Wilco:  this is their mainline sound, poppy, catching, tasty and interesting.   Cline’s at his best (with Wilco anyway *) when he’s not playing at breakneck solo speed.  For instance the way his guitar line punctuates the vocal line on Dawned On Me.  Or on Born Alone,  the way you find yourself humming his chorus guitar for few bars after the song ends.  That’s the difference between technical and lyrical playing.

Tweedy’s no slouch at writing great songs either.  The slow ones are where his talents really show.  There’s a part in Black Moon right after he says “the morning” where the chord shifts lower and darker.  Tweedy keeps his tempos fairly simple but knows just where to drop things for maximum effect.  He’s a total pro at songwriting and it really
shows on Black Moon.   He also really likes to remind us that we’ll all die alone, as he does again on Born Alone.

Capitol City is one the weirder songs, it’s gotta a real Tin Pan Alley style.  Wilco style of course, it’s actually grown on me and again shows the range of Tweedy as a songwriter.  As the record begins to end, we get the title cut that puts the listener back at ease in the world of mid-tempo rockers.   I find the electronic tinkering in the background great.  It sits at just the right level to lend color and whatnot to the song.  (If it was louder everyone would declare a return to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot territory, and Wilco could again regain their indie cred and shake off the Dad-rock label…….).

And then we arrive at One Sunday Morning,  12 minutes of what Wilco does best, opposed to the opening track, we get no fireworks, tempo changes or guitar freakouts,  just a
lovely melody, perfect executed with little flourish.  It needs none, it sounds organic and
natural.  Wilco can still kill doing this style of song.   This song needs the full 12 minutes to simply saunter along.  It’s becoming one of my favorite Wilco songs yet.  Here NOTHING
is forced, and the results are so much better.

So, maybe that was a little more than you wanted, Michael?  I got carried away.  Basically, I think it’s a fine Wilco record, like the ones before, like the ones that will come after.  They (like the Faces, or the Replacements) are a simply a great band doing what they do well.

Those who whine about Wilco simply haven’t been paying attention.  Just as Summerteeth begat Yankee Hotel Foxtrot begat Ghost is Born begat Sky Blue Sky, etc., the progressions between albums are total natural, and fun to listen to.   The signs were there all along.

*Cline can do ANYTHING.  His own discography is definitely wilder water.  A good place to start is here.

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1 Response to Wilco : Whole Love : for MikePat

  1. Thorton says:

    That’ll do.

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