Wilco revives listeners' Love
Wilco refuses to resign itself to irrelevancy. Some critics have labeled the band washed up or have given the band the ugly title of “dad rock.” However, the group’s latest album, The Whole Love, revives its stagnant sonic attributes and dismisses its dreadful previous effort, Wilco (the album).
The experimental “Art of Almost” starts off the album with a bang. It struts a kraut-rock groove similar to previous jams “Bull Black Nova” and “Spiders,” but lacks their biting, grinding edge. Yet, as the track’s glitch appeal begins to wear off, Nels Cline, Wilco’s lead guitarist, hints at one of his premier guitar solos. It slowly builds, and his eventual feature is reminiscent of “Impossible Germany” and “At Least That’s What You Said.”
Characteristic of the band’s recent albums, this collection of tracks does not break any new frontiers in music. However, there is a sense throughout the tracks of exasperation, of the subdued dissatisfaction and unrequited love that defined Wilco’s previous albums, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and A Ghost is Born.
Jeff Tweedy has a reputation for intertwining desperation and loneliness within lyrics and combining them with playful melodies. In “Dawned on Me,” an upbeat romp, Tweedy slurs, “I’ve been taken/ by the sound/ My own worries/ and voices in my head” before the band rolls into the quick refrain, seemingly dismissing the statement as a temporary psychotic mania. “Born Again” has Tweedy coolly singing “Loneliness postponed/ Mine eyes deceiving glory/ I was born to die alone” before moving into a section that features Cline’s guitar for nearly two minutes.
Both Sky Blue Sky and Wilco (the album) were filled with primarily sparse tracks — a significant shift away from one of Wilco’s most critically lauded albums, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. The Whole Love seems to bridge the three defining stages of its eight-album career. The album clearly exhibits the country-folk roots from its earliest releases, A.M. and Being There; blends in the psychotic sonic attributes of Yankee and A Ghost; and tops it off with the maximally polished production values of Sky Blue Sky.
The band’s folk roots are never more present than in the excellent closer, “One Sunday Morning.” The track is a light folk-romp in which the narrator is the son of an over-imposing father. Though lengthy at 15 minutes, the song never drags along like “Bull Black Nova” and “Spiders” do at times. In “One Sunday Morning,” percussive drumsticks and lingering steel guitar weave around the main guitar, whose melody rises and falls willfully. The masterful piano pieces garnish any slow points, resulting in a track that is almost unequaled in Wilco’s discography. Tweedy eventually croons the track’s pivotal message: “I miss/ being told how to live/ What I learned without knowing/ How much more I owe than I can give.”
The Whole Love is the result of a band comfortable enough with its past to utilize the good aspects of previous experimentation. As a result, The Whole Love is a concoction of their past albums — an album that deserves better than the label of “dad rock.”